Eric Salzman: Composer, Author, Music Theater Innovator


Facebook posts

Kristin Norderval recently posted the following:

“WOW. What a year it has been!!
Beyond the political turbulence, there were many personal firsts.

2016 saw the premiere of my first full-length opera -The Trials of Patricia Isasa – at the Monument National Theater in Montreal; the release of my first CD on a jazz label; and the first performance in New York of ‘Cassandra Ground Zero’, a one woman opera written for me by Eric Salzman in 2001 that has had multiple performances in Europe but none in the US until this year in a new production expertly directed by Kira Simring and produced by the Center for Contemporary Opera. In the fall of 2016 I also had the honor of creating the soundscore for a new jill sigman/thinkdance production – Weed Heart – and participating in multiple related talk-backs and community meetings focused on issues of sustainability and racial justice. All of my work this year felt extremely relevant to the big issues that we are grappling with at this time.”

For those who need an introduction, Kristin is a hugely talented Norwgian-American singer, composer and computer performer!. Her No. 1 achievement in 2016 was the premiere of her own work, “The Trials of Patricia Isasa”, based on the true story of a survivor from the dark period of Argentine fascism not so many years ago. I believe that, unbelievably enough, Patricia Asasa herself attended the premiere which was very well received in Canada although, as usual with important American work abroad, it was ignored here. Anyway it’s an honor to be No. 2 on her 2016 hit list. It was a wonderful performance of “Cassandra” (produced by the Center for Contemporary Opera in collaboration with The Cell) and it can be seen on YouTube!

Ed Shockley, a writer and playwright from Philadelphia, wrote the libretto for “Bobos”, a hip-hop opera, with James McBride which I produced with the American Music Theater Festival. His post was a generous plug for the Oxford New Music Theater book that I wrote with Thomas Desi:

“James McBride and I worked this Eric Salzman several years in Philadelphia as we were doing “Bobos.” This is an important book. James McBride and I worked almost ten years to make it but Eric Salzman was the only one who was not afraid to say the work “Hip-Hop-Opera. (See number 367 in this book.)

Alternatives to grand opera and the popular musical can be traced at least as far back as the 1912 premiere of Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire. Yet this ongoing history has never been properly sorted out, its complex ideas and philosophy as well as musical and theatrical achievements never brought full…”


Date Posted // January 11, 2017
In Categories // Cassandra, Music Theater, News, Projects, The New Music Theater, Works and Productions

John Cage Was . . .

The striking new collection of Cage photos by James Klosty, published by Wesleyan University Press, also includes quotations about John from a variety of sources. One of the sources is the program notes that I wrote for the premiere of my Five Dances for String Quartet, arrangements of Cage prepared piano pieces at a Cage Festival at Bard College a couple of years ago.  The quote (about Cage and mushroom) is pretty good but the best part is the company it keeps!

Date Posted // November 19, 2014
In Categories // Five Dances for String Quartet, Writings

AGENDA Magazine with articles by Eric and Eva Salzman

The latest issue of the distinguished British poetry magazine, AGENDA, is a double issue devoted to the theme of “Poetry & Opera” and it features essays on the subject by Eric Salzman and his daughter, poet and librettist Eva Salzman.

Eric’s contribution is entitled “Opera, The Writer & The Composer” and it is a brief for a new, small-scale form of opera/music theater that sheds the baggage of grand opera for more direct forms of communication.  Eva’s “Opera More or Less Seriously; or an Ensemble of Perplexity” is partly a memoir (growing up at 29 Middagh Street in Brooklyn, still a family home) and partly a rumination on the topic (including her own experiences with the English National Opera Studio). There is a musical except from “Cassandra” (also known as “Cassandra, Ground Zero”), a father-&-daughter collaboration based on a modernized version of the ancient myth.

These essays are in good company with a long list of distinguished contributors including Derek Wolcott, Thomas Ades, Michael McCarthy (co-founder of Music Theatre Wales), Wasfi Kani (founder of Pimlico Opera) and many others. The magazine is edited by Patricia McCarthy, herself a noted poet, and the double issue is Volume 47, Nos 3-4. More information is available at the web site <>.



Date Posted // January 09, 2014
In Categories // AGENDA articles, Music Theater, News, Writings

an on-line review of the music-theater book

Perry J. Greenbaum, a genial and insightful Canadian blogger on political and cultural subjects, has just posted a notice about “The New Music Theater: Seeing the Voice, Hearing the Body”, the book by Thomas Desi and myself published by Oxford University Press. Here’s the link.

Date Posted // April 18, 2013
In Categories // Music Theater, News, Reviews, The New Music Theater, Writings

The New Music Theater for Christmas

Trish Causey has put The New Music Theater in her top 10 list of Christmas gifts in her Theater Blog for

“Eric Salzman and Thomas Desi have done an incredible job of mapping the vast and ever-changing artform of Musical Theatre. No longer viewed as the unfortunate hybrid of operetta and Vaudeville, Music Theatre is an artform to be reckoned with… This 416-page survey of changing writing and performing styles should be on the book of every theatre lover.”

Date Posted // November 02, 2011
In Categories // Music Theater, News, Reviews, The New Music Theater, Writings