Eric Salzman: Composer, Author, Music Theater Innovator


“Big Jim & the Small-time Investors” will open Cutting Edge Concerts in 2018

“Big Jim & the Small-time Investors” will open Victoria Bond’s 2018 Cutting Edge Concerts on April 9 at the Thalia Theater, Symphony Space, on the Upper West Side, New York City.

This music-theater opera by Eric Salzman is about an L.A. con man who claims to have invented a virtual reality machine that permits the viewer to imagine his or her wildest fantasies are coming true. The libretto is by Ned Jackson and Eric Salzman, the score by Salzman and Victoria Bond will conduct and music direct. This production will include the instrumentation of accordion, keyboards, strings and percussion. It follows two workshops by the Center for Contemporary Opera at the Flea Theater and the Faison Firehouse Theater. The stage director and stage designer will be Justin Meredith Brown. The title role of Big Jim will be performed by Scott Joiner; other cast members will be announced shortly.


“Big Jim” excerpts on YouTube

Audio excerpts from the Faison Firehouse Theatre performance of “Big Jim & the Small-time Investors” are on YouTube together with photos from the two workshop performances. The link is <>.

Videos from this performance are also on YouTube at <>,  <> and <>


“Big Jim” at Faison Firehouse Theater

The staged workshop or ‘atelier’ of “Big Jim & the Small-time Investors” took place on March 11 at the George Faison Firehouse Theater in Harlem under the auspices of the Center for Contemporary Opera. The first-rate cast included Vale Rideout at Jim, Aaron Theno as his assistant Stan, Colette Boudreaux as his wife Kim and Darynn Zimmer as his Mom, a chorus of eight, an instrumental ensemble featuring Bill Schimmel (accordion), Paula Kimper (sound design and electronics) and Peter Fancovic (piano), all directed by the excellent Steve Crawford. Although everyone was on book, there was a surprisingly effective amount of staging by Andrew Eggert.  “Big Jim” is based on a libretto by Ned Jackson with a score by Eric Salzman. It’s a story about an L.A. con man who purports to have invented a virtual-reality machine that makes its users believe that their wildest fantasies are coming true. The character of Jim appears on screen or as a live hologram for most of the piece and the musical form is somewhere between music-theater and what we might call theater opera. The March 11th performance was a big step forward for this large-scale work which is edging its way towards a full production.

Date Posted // March 17, 2014
In Categories // Big Jim and the Small-Time Investors, Events, Music Theater, News, Works and Productions

“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:

Contact Information
Center for Contemporary Opera
Center for Contemporary Opera


Date Posted // March 10, 2014
In Categories // Big Jim and the Small-Time Investors, Events, Music Theater, News, Works and Productions

“Big Jim” is a US Artists project

“Big Jim” has been selected as a US Artists project and the following has gone out over their logo:


UnitedStatesArtists is plugging for my most recent opera/music-theater piece “BIG JIM & THE SMALL-TIME INVESTORS” — libretto by Ned Jackson and myself, with a full musical score by me.

This piece is a major step forward for me and Ned and the help of US Artists is much appreciated — but we need your support. As some of you know, we had a very successful reading last spring at The Flea Theater in downtown NYC and, as a result, the work is scheduled for performance by the Center for Contemporary Opera next year. But this is a shoestring operation and we are way short of funds. The aim of US Artists is to help raise some of those funds and they have a great track record doing this with contributors from all over.

“Big Jim” is about an L.A. con man, a kind of televangist who is peddling a virtual reality scheme that purports to let its viewers imagine that their wildest fantasies have come true. It is a mixture of innovative and popular elements in the script, score and staging that are both amusing and scary…not to mention timely.

I’m sharing this project at this stage of development because I’m trying to raise $12-$15,000 in order to finish up the composition, make the necessary revisions, orchestrate, and meet various other costs connected with printing, copying and setting up auditions — virtually all expenses that fall on me. If you can support this project with a donation, in any capacity or amount, we can make “Big Jim” a reality! Shoring this project with others and sending me your thoughts are also very valuable ways to show your support.

Want to learn more? If you go to you can find lots of information about “BIG JIM” (including a talking head video in which the talking head is me). And, most importantly, information on how to help!

US Artists is a wonderful non-profit whose aim is to help artists create or complete major projects. It was founded by Ford, Rockefeller, Rasmuson and Prudential Foundations and has supported the work of individual artists since 2005. Donating through USA’s micro-philanthropy initiative, USA Projects, supports the work of accomplished artists all across American and is tax deductible. The great thing about this is that it is directly plugged into the creators; this is an organization with an excellent record helping artists raise the funds that are so desperately needed these days! It’s a great way to help art in America grow!

If this is irrelevant to you, just hit the delete button. Otherwise let me know what you think. Whatever you can do (including any suggestions you might have) will be much appreciated!



Date Posted // February 11, 2013
In Categories // Big Jim and the Small-Time Investors, Music Theater, News, Works and Productions