Music by Mark-Anthony Turnage
Based on Steven Berkoff’s stage play of the same title
Libretto adapted by Mark-Anthony Turnage and Jonathan Moore
Sung in English with English surtitles
Hailed as a cult classic, Greek is a political and indelible retelling of Sophocles’ tragedy, Oedipus the King. Transporting audiences to London’s East End during the tumultuous 1980s with music influences that range from jazz to daring percussion to sounds of the streets, Greek is an aggressive, defiant and profane detonation of a story millennia old.
This Opera Annex production features award-winning baritone Marcus Farnsworth, who makes his BLO debut as he reprises the role he sang in a critically-acclaimed production seen at Music Theatre Wales. BLO favorites Caroline Worra and Christopher Burchett join Amanda Crider in her BLO debut to complete the cast of four singers who inhabit 11 characters at a breakneck pace. Directed by Sam Helfrich and conducted by Andrew Bisantz, Greek reunites the team that launched BLO’s acclaimed Opera Annex series.
Conductor Andrew Bisantz
Stage Director Sam Helfrich
Set Designer John Conklin
Costume Designer Nancy Leary
Lighting Designer Chris Hudacs*
Fight Director Andrew Kenneth Moss
Wig and Makeup Designer Jason Allen
Dramaturg John Conklin
Surtitle Designer Allison Voth
Marcus Farnsworth* as Eddy
Caroline Worra as Eddy’s Mum | Waitress | Sphinx
Amanda Crider* as Doreen | Waitress who becomes Eddy’s Wife | Sphinx
Christopher Burchett as Dad | Café Manager | Chief of Police
Actors: Dani Berkowitz*, Erin Eva Butcher*, Caleb Cedrone*, Nile Hawver*
* Boston Lyric Opera Debut
† Boston Lyric Opera Jane and Steven Akin Emerging Artist
‡ Boston Lyric Opera Jane and Steven Akin Emerging Artist Alumnus
Performed in two acts with one 25-minute intermission. Performance running time is approximately two hours
Please note: The opera Greek includes explicit language, violence and sexual content. Recommended for mature audiences only.
OPERA ANNEX TALKBACKS
Stick around after the show for informal Talkbacks: Half-hour panels that include cast and creative team members in discussion. Listen to candid conversations about the performance process and what happened onstage that day or evening. Talkbacks are available after each performance of Greek. Free to ticketholders.
LISTEN TO THE MUSIC
In London’s East End, the aimless and bored Eddy lives with his parents and sister, dreaming of a better life. His father recounts visiting a fortuneteller at a fair years before and the unsettling prophecy that Eddy would grow up to murder his father and sleep with his mother. Disgusted, Eddy storms off in search of love and adventure. The streets of London are restless and angry; Eddy joins in a riot and is beaten up by the police. Eddy ventures into a small café and orders, before getting into an argument with the manager. He kicks the man to death. The owner’s wife is distraught, but Eddy comforts her. She remarks that he seems familiar somehow and tells Eddy of her young son who disappeared into the Thames years before – they searched, but only found his teddy bear. The two fall passionately in love. Meanwhile, back at Eddy’s home, his parents wonder if they should have told him the whole truth about his past.
Ten years later, Eddy and his wife are successful and happy. Eddy’s parents visit. London is besieged by a terrible plague which seems to be caused by a Sphinx, who lurks outside the city walls. Eddy decides to confront her. She spews insults and profanity at him, but he easily answers her riddle and kills her. He returns to the café, triumphant. But then, Eddy’s parents confess that he is not actually their son. They rescued him from the Thames when he was only two years old – clutching a teddy bear, which they threw back into the water. Horrified, Eddy realizes that the fortuneteller’s prophecy has come true. He thinks of Oedipus and imagines putting out his own eyes, Greek-style. But – can the Eddy of today defy his fate?
Meet the Artists
MARK-ANTHONY TURNAGE Composer
English composer Mark-Anthony Turnage is cited among the most significant creative figures to have emerged in British music of the last three decades. His first opera, Greek, established Mr. Turnage’s reputation as an artist who forged his own path between modernism and tradition by means of a unique blend of jazz and classical styles. Three Screaming Popes, Kai, Momentum and Drowned Out emerged during his time as Composer in Association in Birmingham with Sir Simon Rattle, followed by Blood on the Floor. His second full-length opera, The Silver Tassie, won both the South Bank Show and the Olivier Awards for Opera in 2001; his third opera Anna Nicole played at The Royal Opera, Covent Garden in 2011 and has received new productions in Germany and New York, as well as a revival at Covent Garden in Autumn 2014. Mr. Turnage has been Resident Composer with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra and London Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Turnage is Research Fellow in Composition at the Royal College of Music.
ANDREW BISANTZ Conductor
Andrew Bisantz’s Boston Lyric Opera credits include leading BLO’s inaugural Opera Annex production of The Turn of the Screw, followed by Tosca and Madama Butterfly. Recent engagements include Le Nozze di Figaro (Opera Saratoga, Opera San Jose), Lucia di Lammermoor and Eugene Onegin (Eugene Opera), La Fanciulla del West (Opera Omaha), and Don Giovanni (Savannah Voice Festival). Other notable engagements include The Consul, Die Zauberflöte, Rigoletto, and Don Giovanni (Florida Grand Opera); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (McGill University); La Traviata (Virginia Opera); and his debut with Wolf Trap Opera conducting Don Giovanni. He has also conducted Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 with the Boston Landmarks Orchestra and was soloist and conductor of Rhapsody in Blue with Buffalo Philharmonic. This season, he continues as Music Director of Eugene Opera where he conducts their 40th Anniversary Gala, West Side Story, and La tragédie de Carmen. His recent recording of Fredrick Kaufman’s Stars and Distances and The Seven Sisters is available on Navona Records.
SAM HELFRICH Stage Director
Sam Helfrich returns to Boston Lyric Opera, having staged the inaugural Opera Annex production of The Turn of the Screw. Recent highlights include Embedded (Fort Worth Opera); St. John Passion (Pittsburgh Symphony); Orpheus in the Underworld (Virginia Opera); Masquerade, In the Penal Colony and Cavalleria Rusticana (String Orchestra of Brooklyn); the World Premieres of Enemies: A Love Story (Palm Beach Opera) and Embedded (Fargo-Moorhead Opera); Ariadne auf Naxos and A Streetcar Named Desire (Virginia Opera); Dead Man Walking and Nixon in China (Eugene Opera); Kepler (in its U.S. Premiere); Louise and Amistad (Spoleto Festival/USA); The Consul and La Voix Humaine (Glimmerglass Opera); Les Indes Galantes, Don Giovanni, and Agrippina (Boston Baroque); a fully-staged Handel’s Messiah (Pittsburgh Symphony); the World Premiere of The Secret Agent (Center for Contemporary Opera in New York, Armel Opera Festival in Hungary, and Opera Avignon in France); Orphée (Virginia Opera, Portland Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, and Pittsburgh Opera). Upcoming projects include Madama Butterfly at Palm Beach Opera, the World Premiere of Dan Sonenberg’s The Summer King at Pittsburgh Opera, and Peter Eotvos’ Angels in America at New York City Opera. Mr. Helfrich received his BA and MFA from Columbia University, and is an associate arts professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in New York.
JOHN CONKLIN Set Designer, Dramaturg, BLO Artistic Advisor
John Conklin has designed sets on and off Broadway, at the Kennedy Center, and for opera companies around the world, including The Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Seattle Opera, San Francisco Opera, Bastille Opera in Paris, The Royal Opera and the opera houses of Munich, Amsterdam, and Bologna, among others. Locally, his work has been seen in Boston Lyric Opera’s recent productions of I Puritani (2014), La Bohème (2015), Werther (2016) and The Merry Widow (2016), as well as at the American Repertory Theater and Boston Ballet. Additionally, Mr. Conklin develops lecture series and community events for BLO that enrich the audience experience and strengthen the presence of opera in Boston’s arts community. He is on the faculty at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and was a recipient of the 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Opera Honors.
NANCY LEARY Costume Designer
Nancy Leary has designed costumes for Opera Saratoga, Virginia Opera, Pittsburgh Symphony, Opera Boston, Chautauqua Opera, Mobile Opera, Juilliard Opera, Boston Musica Viva, Boston Conservatory and New England Conservatory. Other design credits include: Shakespeare Theatre New Jersey, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Weston Playhouse, Actors Shakespeare Project, Orlando Shakespeare Festival, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, North Shore Music Theatre, ART Institute, Chamber Repertory Theatre, Boston Theatre Works, as well as Knife Edge Productions in New York City. Ms. Leary is currently working on The Long Walk, for Utah Opera. She also teaches Design and Production at Boston University School of Theatre.
ANDREW KENNETH MOSS Fight Director
A resident of Boston, Andrew Kenneth Moss’ work was featured in Boston Lyric Opera’s Don Giovanni, I Puritani and most recently, Carmen. Other Boston credits include: A Little Night Music (Huntington Theatre Company), The Convert (Central Square Theater), Don Giovanni and La Tragédie de Carmen (Boston University Opera Institute). International credits include: West Side Story (Adger Teater Kilden, Norway), Porgy and Bess (75th Anniversary International Tour), Safe (Edinburgh Fringe Festival). Additional credits include: Armida (The Metropolitan Opera), Dead Man Walking, West Side Story, Carmen, and Oklahoma! (Central City Opera). Mr. Moss has been a Guest Instructor/ Lecturer at New York University, University of Oklahoma, Boston University, New England Conservatory, Oklahoma City University, Hofstra University, and The School of Visual Arts.
CHRIS HUDACS Lighting Designer
This is Chris Hudacs’ Boston Lyric Opera debut. Based in the Boston area, his regional credits include Sondheim On Sondheim and Intimate Apparel (Lyric Stage Company of Boston); Elemeno Pea, The Dutchman, Heroin/e, The Pirate Princess, Dying For It (ART/MXAT Institute); and Sylvain Emard’s Le Grand Continental (Celebrity Series of Boston). Nationally, Mr. Hudacs has designed lights for Pilobolus Dance Theater, Tiffany Mills Company, The York Theatre Company, Pickleshoes Family Theater, Toy Box Theatre, Nancy Meehan Dance, and The Ordinary Theater, among others.
JASON ALLEN Wig and Makeup Designer
Jason Allen has been BLO’s Resident Wig and Makeup Designer since 2003. A fixture of the Boston performing arts community, he also works with Huntington Theatre Company, Boston Ballet, and many other organizations in Boston and throughout the country.
MARCUS FARNSWORTH Baritone
Marcus Farnsworth makes his Boston Lyric Opera debut. Mr. Farnsworth studied at Manchester University and The Royal Academy of Music, London. Opera roles include Guglielmo in Così Fan Tutte; Ned Keene in Peter Grimes; Novice’s Friend in Billy Budd; Lance Corporal Lewis in In Parenthesis; Sid in Albert Herring; Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas; Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Kelvin in Solaris with companies including English and Welsh National Operas; Bergen National Opera; Opera de Lille; Théâtre des Champs Elysées and Aix-en-Provence Festival on tour in the Far East. In concert, Mr. Farnsworth has appeared with the Adelaide Symphony, Royal Scottish National and Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestras; RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Dublin; BBC Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonic and Scottish Symphony Orchestras with conductors François-Xavier Roth, Paul McCreesh, Claus Peter Flor, Bernard Labadie, Edward Gardner, Gianandrea Noseda, and Nicolas Collon. Mr. Farnsworth has sung many works by living composers, including John Taverner, Sally Beamish, Thomas Larcher, Peter Maxwell Davies and David Sawer.
CAROLINE WORRA Soprano
Caroline Worra most recently received international acclaim for her performance of Jenny in The Mines of Sulphur (Grammy nominated for Best Opera Recording) and for The Greater Good, or the Passion of Boule de Suif, which was the Opera News and New York Times pick for one of the top classical CDs of the year. In addition, her full opera recording, Glory Denied, is a Washington Post and Opera News pick for one of the top CDs of the year. She recently appeared with Utah Opera in the title role of The Merry Widow. Recent credits also include Beethoven’s Mass in C (Carnegie Hall); the American Lyric Theater Alumni Concert (National Sawdust Theater); Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire (Tulsa Opera); Strauss’ Four Last Songs and Mahler’s Fourth Symphony (LaCrosse Symphony); The Poe Project: Buried Alive/Embedded (Fort Worth Opera) and as Ellen Orford in Peter Grimes (Princeton Festival). Boston Lyric Opera credits include the title role in Agrippina, Fiordiligi in Così Fan Tutte, and Abigail Borden in BLO’s production of Lizzie Borden in Boston and at Tanglewood.
CHRISTOPHER BURCHETT Baritone
Chief of Police
Christopher Burchett’s roles include Blazes in The Lighthouse (Boston Lyric Opera); Victor in The Poe Project: Buried Alive/Embedded (Fort Worth Opera); Captain Corcoran in H.M.S. Pinafore (Opera Saratoga and Virginia Opera); the title roles in Sweeney Todd (Eugene Opera) and Don Giovanni (Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre); David T. Little’s Soldier Songs (PROTOTYPE Festival); and the European Premiere of Oceanic Verses (BBC Symphony Orchestra). A champion of new music, Mr. Burchett has been a part of several World Premieres, including Too Many Sopranos (Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre), The Greater Good (Glimmerglass Opera), and Wakonda’s Dream (Opera Omaha). Widely sought after for his concert work, Mr. Burchett has appeared with the Carmel Bach Festival, Boulder Bach Festival, Louisville Bach Society, and Bethlehem Bach Festival.
AMANDA CRIDER Mezzo-Soprano
Waitress who becomes Eddy’s Wife
Amanda Crider makes her Boston Lyric Opera debut. Recent credits include a return to Eugene Opera as Olga in Eugene Onegin; her debut with Florentine Opera as Prince Orlovsky in Die Fledermaus; Alma in Persona with Beth Morrison Projects; a series of concerts with Seraphic Fire; and Handel’s Messiah with Augustana College. Recent highlights also include her role debut as Angelina in La Cenerentola (Opera Roanoke); Laurey in Oklahoma! (Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra); Zerlina in Don Giovanni (Castleton Festival); and the English Teacher in Paul’s Case (PROTOTYPE Festival and UrbanArias). A former Young Artist, she sang Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro and Mallika in Lakmé (Florida Grand Opera). Additionally in the 2016/17 Season, Ms. Crider returns to Apollo’s Fire for Handel’s Messiah and the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
CALEB CEDRONE Actor
Caleb Cedrone makes his Boston Lyric Opera debut, having most recently toured the country with the National Players Tour 67, performing as Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Lucius in Julius Caesar and Ernest Defarge in the World Premiere of a new adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities. Other credits include Dr. Givings in In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) and Orestes in Iphigenia and Other Daughters (Boston University). Mr. Cedrone has trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and is a graduate of Boston University’s BFA acting program.
DANI BERKOWITZ Actor
Dani Berkowitz makes her Boston Lyric Opera debut. Regional highlights include: The Confession (Blue Gate Musicals); A Man of No Importance and Six Degrees of Separation (Bad Habit Productions); Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare NOW!); The Wakeville Stories (Matty Mae Theatre Project); Uncommon Women and Others (Actors Playground). Upcoming engagements include a new crime series on the Oxygen Channel. Ms. Berkowitz is a director, a teacher, and the Artistic Director of Hot Summers Productions.
ERIN EVA BUTCHER Actor
Erin Eva Butcher makes her Boston Lyric Opera debut. Recent credits include: Sense and Sensibility (Maiden Phoenix Theatre Company); Radium Girls (Flat Earth Theater); Kerplop!, Lover’s Quarrels, and Hairy Tales (Imaginary Beasts); Blue Window (Brown Box Productions); The Forgetting Curve (Bridge Repertory Theatre of Boston); and Uncle Vanya (Apollinaire Theatre Company). Ms. Butcher is the Artistic Director of Maiden Phoenix Theatre Company, a Boston-based company committed to telling stories about women. Ms. Butcher is originally from Ohio and studied Theatre at Baldwin-Wallace University, and further trained at Shakespeare & Company.
NILE HAWVER Actor
Nile Hawver makes his principal artist debut with Boston Lyric Opera, after appearing as a Soldier in Carmen. Boston theatre credits include: Finish Line (Boston Theatre Company); Violet and Mothers and Sons (SpeakEasy Stage); Etherdome (Huntington Theatre Company); Twelfth Night (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company); and The Edge of Peace (Central Square Theatre). National credits include: Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Ocean State Theatre Company, and more. Mr. Hawver earned his BFA at the University of Rhode Island and his MFA at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Recommendations for further reading, watching, and exploring from John Conklin, BLO Artistic Advisor
Decadence, and Other Plays
By Steven Berkoff
Faber and Faber, 1989
Turnage’s opera was first performed in Munich in 1988. It had a libretto adapted by the composer and Jonathan Moore from the 1980 verse play of the same title by Steven Berkoff—a retelling of Sophocles’ Greek tragedy, Oedipus the King, transposed to a contemporary setting in the East End of London. The Berkoff original is a very striking piece in itself—torrentially powerful in its outpouring of passionate words…words at once achingly tender, savagely bitter, and shockingly violent.
THE ORIGINAL ORIGINAL: Oedipus the King
Universally recognized as the dramatic masterpiece of the Greek theater. It is at once driven by a compelling plot of theatrical suspense—the tantalizing, gradual, and ironic onstage revelation of a terrible secret—and a searing portrait of what it is, ultimately, to be a man and to accept the destiny that you have been given—or that you have created.
The Three Theban Plays: Antigone, Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus
By Sophocles, translated by Robert Fagles
Penguin Books, 1982
“The most impressive verse translations of Sophocles that have ever been made.” (Stephen Spender)
With excellent, comprehensive notes and introductions by Bernard Knox
Opera from the Greek
By Michael Ewans
Ashgate Publishing, 2007
A fascinating and detailed study (with many enlightening musical examples) of how Classical Greek tragedy and epic poetry have been appropriated by opera—and how the relationship (and divergences) between the original texts and their operatic form raise significant issues. There is a perceptive chapter on Turnage’s Greek, with other sections devoted to Strauss’ Elektra, Monteverdi’s Ulisse, and Enesco’s Oedipe (among others).
OTHER OEDIPUS OPERAS
By George Enesco
This is the only opera by the Romanian composer George Enesco. Called by Pablo Casals “the greatest musical phenomenon since Mozart,” Enesco is now known to the West mostly for his “Romanian Rhapsodies.” Oedipe premiered at the Paris Opera in 1936 and thereafter went unperformed for more than 20 years. Recently, however, the opera has been reassessed and hailed as a undiscovered or unacknowledged masterpiece of 20th century opera. Successful and revelatory productions have occurred in Vienna, Berlin, Brussels, and, most recently, in London at the Royal Opera House. The U.S. premiere was at the University of Indiana in 2005. Enesco’s opera is conceived on a grand scale with a large orchestra and chorus. It is unusual in that it narratively covers the whole of Oedipus’ life, from his baptism to his death.
Audio recording by EMI Classics
With José van Dam, Barbara Hendricks, Brigitte Fassbaender; Lawrence Foster, conductor
An excellent 1989 recording, impressively cast, helped stimulate this growing interest. It is definitely worth a listen.
By Igor Stravinsky, with libretto by Jean Cocteau and Latin text by Jean Danielou
Premiered in 1927 in Paris; the U.S. premiere was in Boston in 1931. Both the Paris and Boston premieres were in concert form, but the piece was conceived to be performed on stage and, even with its apparent lack of physical action, monumentally sculptural qualities, and the distancing effect of its Latin text, it can still deliver a potent theatrical charge. This is apparent in this striking DVD of a production by Julie Taymor with Jessye Norman, Philip Langridge, and Bryn Terfel, conducted by Sejii Ozawa.
There is a new CD recording with Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra (coupled with perhaps my favorite Stravinsky piece, Les Noces). There also are a slew of recordings by lots of the best known conductors—von Karajan, Solti, Abbado, Levine, with many distinguished singers represented. Perhaps two of the most interesting to seek out are by Leonard Bernstein and the recording conducted by Stravinsky himself.
The Infernal Machine and Other Plays
by Jean Cocteau
New Directions Publishing Company, 1963
First produced in 1934, this is a typical example of Cocteau’s cheeky, witty, sexy, rather chic contemporary take on the hallowed literary past and on the sacred tenets of psychology.
Water Bearer Films, directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1967
This semi-autobiographical film by Pasolini (“one of the most original and perverse poets of his generation”) is set partially in modern times (perhaps the 1930s in Italy) and in an ancient landscape (stunningly shot in Morocco), inhabited by timeless figures out of some prehistoric society. Like the Enesco opera, this work deals with the whole life of Oedipus from his omen-haunted childhood to his moment of transcendence at the end of his life.
ANOTHER TURNAGE OPERA
Opus Arte, 2011
An opera based (more or less factually) on the mythically gaudy life of the “Queen of the tabloids,” Anna Nicole Smith. It premiered at Covent Garden in a production by Richard Jones. It was recorded for this DVD in all its (mostly) intentional vulgarity and provocative trashiness, with performances by Eva-Marie Westbroek, Gerald Finley, and Susan Bickley that raise it to a level of surprising honesty and humanity. The U.S. premiere of the opera, in 2013, was the last production of the New York City Opera.
Greek is also available on CD from Argo Records.
Don’t forget…start at smile.amazon.com and support Boston Lyric Opera every time you shop!
GREEK study guide
“Disturbingly current in its depiction of a desensitized, turbulent time.”
“The eye-popping end…demanded full attention.”
– BOSTON GLOBE
“Outstanding, engaging and rewarding… deserves to be seen by any serious opera buff.”
“GREEK resonates profoundly in light of our recent national election.”
“Alternates from short and brutal … to poetic, even lyrical.”
“The orchestra deftly led by Andrew Bisantz.”
“[Costumes] perfectly capture the look of the era.”
– SOUTH SHORE CRITIC
“Edgy and cinematic…effective [and] powerful. This is operatic agitprop…a meditation on the force of words and on power as held by bit actors and national figures.”
“Farnsworth’s singing is good with clean diction and great projection.”
“Worra runs the gamut from “Coronation Street” to suburban sexy. The switch-flipping suddenness of her transformation into Sphinx is part of the shock of that scene.”
“Burchett exudes despair and seething rage; like Farnsworth, he lost himself in his roles, granting the characters a vivid presence in performance.”
– BOSTON MUSICAL INTELLIGENCER