Europa’s Opera: Three Acts is a collaboration among three of NYU’s international houses: Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, Deutsches Haus at NYU, and La Maison Française of NYU, and will showcase productions by three of New York City’s most innovative opera companies throughout spring 2020.
In the late 16th century, in what could be described as a revolutionary act, a group of intellectuals, from an array of different backgrounds, gathered to conceive a musical art form that would update the supposed ancient Greek practice of comprehensibly setting words to music. This method of reciting through song (recitar cantando) expanded very quickly throughout the European continent, reaching the ears and hearts of people normally separated by country, class, language, and gender.
Curated by Gina Crusco (Underworld Productions), Europa’s Opera: Three Acts draws upon this rich history and presents three semi-staged productions by Philip Shneidman’s The Little Opera Theater of New York, Dorian Bandy, and Judith Barnes’ Vertical Player Repertory. These performances and an in-depth moderated conversation among the producers aim to demonstrate the power of art and music to transcend national borders, and to act as a binding force, uniting people in a shared experience and common cause.
Panel Discussion with the Producers
Philip Shneidman, The Little Opera Theater of New York
Dorian Bandy, McGill University
Judith Barnes, Vertical Player Repertory
Moderated by Harvey Sachs
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Dorian Komanoff Bandy is a professor of musicology and historical performance at McGill University's Schulich School of Music. His musicological research centers on Mozart, with a paritcular focus on the performer-composer relationship, improvisation, and the Da Ponte operas. His other academic interests include seventeenth-century German polyphony, Beethoven, nineteenth-century Lieder, and various issues in philosophical aesthetics. In addition, Dorian maintains an active career as a conductor, violinist, and historical keyboardist. His repertoire spans four centuries, and his performances -- acclaimed for their vitality, drama, and warmth -- have taken him to venues throughout Europe and North America, including London's Wigmore and Cadogan Halls, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, and New York's Symphony Space.
Judith Barnes is a singer, stage director, and a pioneering producer. She is the founder and artistic director of Vertical Player Repertory, an indie opera company in Brooklyn, New York that “has developed a following for intense performances of unusual works” (The New York Times), and is known for staging opera in unexpected urban venues, such as the deck of an oil tanker at the Red Hook Marine Terminal, a maze-like raw space in midtown Manhattan, and a 19th century factory courtyard on the banks of the Gowanus Canal. In 2019 she produced and co-directed the world premiere of The Constitution, A Secular Oratorio by Benjamin Yarmolinsky, a setting of the text of the U.S. Constitution for chorus and soloists, called by OperaWire “one of the most unique and fascinating works in New York.” As a performer, Judith has been praised as “vocally and dramatically present in every moment” (Parterre), serving an eclectic assortment of roles from the 17th to the 21st centuries, and has worked closely with many contemporary composers. She has exhibited her sculpture yearly with Gowanus Open Studios.
Philip Shneidman (Director) founded the little OPERA theatre of ny. Recent productions include Benjamin Britten’s Owen Wingrave, J.A Hasse’s Piramo e Tisbe, the NY Premiere of Carlisle Floyd’s Prince of Players, an original adaptation of Chevalier de Saint-Georges L’Amant Anonyme, Floyd’s Slow Dusk & Markheim, and Gioachino Rossini's Opportunity Makes the Thief. Previous seasons include Gluck’s The Reformed Drunkard; an evening of two one-act operas by Gustav Holst entitled Travelers. Other opera includes Eugene Onegin and Dialogues of the Carmelites at The Mannes College of Music, Purcell’s The Tempest at Rutgers. His theater directing credits include: Fully Committed (Adirondack Theatre Festival); and Romeo & Juliet (Queens Theatre in the Park), A Drowned Girl  (HERE). As an assistant director on Broadway he worked on The Full Monty, and the Gutierrez productions of A Delicate Balance and The Heiress.
Harvey Sachs’s most recent book, Toscanini, Musician of Conscience, was published by Liveright, New York, in 2017. His other books include Virtuoso, Music in Fascist Italy, Rubinstein: A Life, Reflections on Toscanini, The Ninth: Beethoven and the Year 1824, and, as co-author, Plácido Domingo’s My First Forty Years and Sir Georg Solti’s Memoirs. He also edited and translated The Letters of Arturo Toscanini. He has written for the New Yorker, New York Times, Times Literary Supplement of London, La Stampa, Il Sole-24 Ore, and many other publications, as well as for radio and television. He is on the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia; gives lectures at universities and cultural institutions worldwide; and has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the New York Public Library's Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He lived in Europe – mainly in Italy – for over thirty years and was Artistic Director of the Società del Quartetto di Milano. In 2017 he received an honorary knighthood from the President of Italy for his contributions to Italian culture.