American Premiere of Cassandra:
On November 2nd, 2016, the Center for Contemporary Opera presented the final event of its fall festival: a program of Eric Salzman’s vocal music including the American premiere of “Cassandra Ground Zero” with a libretto by his poet/librettist daughter, Eva Salzman. The work was performed by Kristin Norderval, the Norwgian-American soprano for whom it was written. Ms Norderval, who accompanies herself on piano and with live computer processing of her voice, premiered the work at the Ultima Thule and NewOp Festivals in 2001 in Oslo, Norway, and subsequently performed it in Vienna, Austria, and in Germany. This is a modern version of the Cassandra myth which takes place on a Greek island just before Cassandra goes into Agamemnon’s palace where she foresees that she will be killed. Cassandra has the gift of prophecy but, because she rejected Apollo’s advances, he cursed her so that she would never be believed. The performance was at the Cell Theater which co-produced the evening; it was stage directed by Kira Simring, the artistic director of the theater. The program also included several sets of songs by Salzman including his Walt Whitman setting “On the Beach at Night” and “A Meredith Bestiary”, poems by William Meredith, both sung by Jessica Fishenfeld, soprano, with Eric Sedgwick, piano, and “Speaking of Love” a set of e e cummings love poetry performed by Scott Joiner, tenor, with Eric Sedgwick. An added feature was a short film, “Connection Lost: A Tinder Opera” by Adam Taylor with music by Scott Joiner who was also featured in the film and who generously credits Salzman with some of the inspiration for the film.