“Big Jim & the Small-time Investors” in staged reading
“Big Jim & the Small-time Investors”, Eric Salzman’s new music theater (or ‘theater opera’) work — libretto by Salzman and Ned Jackson — will have a staged reading on Tuesday, March 11, at 8 pm, at the George Faison Firehouse Theater, 6 Hancock Place in Manhattan. The following is the press release sent out by the producers: Scott Joiner and the Center for Contemporary Opera:
Trailblazing company brings cutting-edge opera to Harlem theater: CCO presents Big Jim & the Small-Time Investors at the Faison Firehouse Theater.
On Tuesday night at 8pm, the Center for Contemporary Opera (CCO) will present a semistaged performance of Eric Salzman’s cutting-edge opera, Big Jim & the Small-Time Investors, as part of their Development Series at Harlem’s Faison Firehouse Theater. The story of an L.A. Con-man who lures investors into his alternative reality technology scheme, this performance marks CCO’s first appearance in Harlem.
On Tuesday night (March 11) at 8pm, the Center for Contemporary Opera (CCO) will present a semi-staged performance of Eric Salzman’s cutting-edge opera, Big Jim & the Small-Time Investors, as part of their
Development Series at Harlem’s Faison Firehouse Theater.
“I’m really excited and happy to be pioneering the use of a theater in Harlem,” says Salzman, CCO’s Composer-in-Residence. Many of CCO’s recent performances have been at distinguished venues in Lower
Manhattan, Grammercy and the Upper West Side, making Tuesday’s performance at the Faison Firehouse new ground for the 32-year-old arts organization. As a founder of the New Music Theater movement, Salzman’s
works have been performed nationally and internationally by organizations like the New York Philharmonic, the American Music Theater Festival, La MaMa Experimental Theater, Theater for a New City, and have been
broadcast on NPR, BBC, WNYC and Channel 13.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to be bringing this kind of work to the Firehouse,” says the theater’s founder, Tony and Emmy Award-winning choreographer, dancer and director, George Faison. “This is emblematic of our
commitment to bringing contemporary performing arts to Harlem audiences.” Faison and Salzman met in Philadelphia on a production for the American Music Theater Festival (which Salzman co-founded) in the late
80’s. According to an article in the Daily News, Faison bought the abandoned firehouse in 1999 on Hancock Place off 125th St., renovated it over time and inaugurated the theater in 2007.
‘Big Jim’ King, the title character in Tuesday night’s performance, claims to have invented a virtual reality machine which allows users to experience their own wildest fantasies. The character, who appears to his
followers via digital projection, walks the line between con-man and cult leader, luring investors into his operation. His plan spirals out of control threatening to ruin the Investors and promising disaster for Jim’s wife,
Kim, and his assistant, Stan. In this digital world, Big Jim’s story resonates now more than ever.
Composer Eric Salzman has brought this dramatic character to life with the help of librettist, Edgar Jackson. Andrew Eggert directs and Metropolitan Opera veteran Steven Crawford conducts an all-star cast featuring
Vale Rideout, Aaron Theno, Colette Boudreaux, and Darynn Zimmer in addition to an ensemble featuring world-renowned accordionist Bill Schimmel.
Looking for the Faison Firehouse Theater? Take the A,B,C or D train to 125th St., walk south one block on Manhattan Avenue and turn right on W. 124th Street. 6 Hancock Place is on the left just after the junction of W.
124th and Hancock.
WHAT: Big Jim & the Small-Time Investors
WHEN: Tuesday, March 11th at 8pm.
WHERE: Faison Firehouse Theater – 6 Hancock Place, New York, NY 10027
For more information call the Faison Firehouse at (212) 665-7716.
Tickets are $20, and will be available at the door or at: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/584614
Center for Contemporary Opera
Center for Contemporary Opera
There’s always another tango
Mezzo Laila Salins and accordionist Bill Schimmel along with cellist Lutz Rath are still performing a version of the Accord/Discord program presented a couple of years ago at the Cell theater in Chelsea and toured in Latvia. Under the name “My Last Tango”, it includes tango arrangements by Schimmel and myself. One performance already took place on May 4th in Freehold, NJ, and another one is coming up at the Latvian Cultural Center in Melville, NY, on Saturday, May 11th, at 7 pm.
A new production of Brecht
I am writing this from Montreal where a new production of the Bertolt Brecht “Good Person of Sechuan” (“La Bonne Ame de Setchouan” in French) is taking place tonight (the dress rehearsal was last night and there is a preview this afternoon). The production is by Antoine Laprise who directed a previous production at the Theatre du Trident in Quebec City a few years using my newly commissioned score. My Brecht Suite was fashioned out of that music and this was subsequently performed by Laila Salins with accordionist Bill Schimmel and the New Tango Project at the Southampton Cultural Center, as part of the Accord/Discord program produced by the Center for Contemporary Opera at the cell in the Chelsea district of NYC and then on tour in Eastern Europe. Now the score has been re-adapted for this new production at the theater school of the College Lionel-Groulx in Sainte-Therese in the outskirts of Montreal (perhaps the major theater school in Quebec, equivalent to Yale Drama or Juilliard).
This is indeed a new production — completely reimagined by Antoine with this excellent cast of young performers. To give a small idea of the differences: the gods of the original are now three goddesses who come down to earth to look for a good woman but also to go shopping. Instead of a tobacco store, the heroine runs a shopping mart filled with cheap consumer goods. The Opium Song is still there along with a bit of the Brechtian revolutionary fervor but the whole social-political aspect of the work comes into sharper focus. Instead of the violins and accordion of the earlier production, there is a rock band with guitars, keyboard and drums so the music now has more swing (although that was already in the original version) and, on many occasions, a strong rock feeling (not there before). It was all a bit startling but thought-provoking and a lot of fun.
La Bonne Ame de Setchouan in Montreal with Salzman score
Antoine Laprise is rehearsing a new version of his production of “La Bonne Ame de Setchouan” (“The Good Woman of Szechuan” by Bertolt Brecht) with my music. The production is scheduled for Montreal in mid-March. The score was originally written and performed for a production by the Theatre du Trident in Quebec City in 2002-03.
Workshop Performance of Big Jim & the Small-Time Investors
An atelier or workshop performance of Big Jim & the Small-Time Investors—music by Eric Salzman, libretto by Salzman after a text by Ned Jackson—will take place at the Flea Theater, 41 White Street, Tribeca, New York City, on March 29th at 8:00pm. This new work is about an L.A. con man who claims to have invented a virtual reality machine which allows the user to see his wildest fantasies come true. Matt Morgan plays Jim, Laila Salins is his wife Kim, Scott Bearden is his manager Stan, Marni Nixon his Mom and there is an ensemble of 8. Antoine Laprise will direct and Michael Fennelly is the music director. The production is part of a week-long event at the Center for Contemporary Opera at The Flea that includes three other workshops and a special evening honoring John Cage’s 100th birthday. Grethe Holby directs performances of Cage’s Europera 5 and a staging of the Satie Socrate that uses his arrangements.