Opera Tour: FIDELIO (Heartbeat Opera in NYC, AZ & CA)

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by Lamont Williams on February 7, 2022

in Theater-Los Angeles,Theater-New York,Theater-Regional,Tours


Music by Ludwig van BeethovenOriginal libretto by Joseph Sonnleithner and Georg Friedrich SonnleithnerAdapted & Directed by Ethan HeardArranged & Music Directed by Daniel SchlosbergNew English Dialogue Co-Written by Marcus Scott and Ethan HeardFIDELIO TOUR STOPS:The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NYThursday, February 10 at 7pmSaturday, February 12 at 7pmSunday, February 13 at 2pmThe Mondavi Center, UC Davis, CASaturday, February 19 at 7:30pmScottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, AZTuesday, February 22 at 7:30pmThe Broad Stage, Santa Monica, CASaturday, February 26 at 7:30pmSunday, February 27 at 4:00pm

Heartbeat Opera — the New York indie opera company whose re-imagined, re-orchestrated, and stripped-down stagings of classic operas — is mounting a four-city tour of its powerful 2018 adaptation of Beethoven’s masterpiece, FIDELIO, which Heartbeat artistic director Ethan Heard conceived for the era of Black Lives Matter.

The tour begins in NY’s Metropolitan Museum on February 10, 12, and 13, 2022. Then Mondavi Center at UC Davis, CA  on Saturday, February 19 at 7:30pm; Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, AZ on Tuesday, February 22 at 7:30pm; and ending at The Broad Stage, Santa Monica, CA for two performances, Saturday, February 26 at 7:30pm & Sunday, February 27 at 4:00pm.

Heartbeat was planning to take its FIDELIO on tour in 2020, the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. Then the pandemic hit, affecting incarcerated people especially and forcing Heartbeat to postpone the tour. Then George Floyd was murdered, sparking a much-needed racial reckoning. Now, with humility and a renewed sense of purpose, Heartbeat brings the tour back.


In Heartbeat‘s FIDELIO, Leonore is now “Leah,” a young Black woman, and her husband Florestan is “Stan,” a Black Lives Matter activist who has been wrongfully incarcerated by a white supremacist prison warden. Leah dreams that she becomes “Lee,” a female prison guard who attempts to rescue Stan from death in prison. Together with playwright Marcus Scott, Ethan Heard has made the dialogue fresh and American (with new updates since the 2018 version), eliminated two major roles, and altered the ending.The opera’s most famous moment is the Prisoners’ Chorus in Act 1 — “O welche Lust” — when the prisoners are allowed out into the open air for a brief time, and they sing a gorgeous ode to freedom, hope, and the human spirit. Heartbeat invited six prison choirs to learn a new version of this hymn, and Heard and Heartbeat co-music director Daniel Schlosberg traveled to the prisons to work with and record the singers. All six audio recordings will be layered and combined with video from choir rehearsals so that the audience hears the voices and sees the faces of more than 100 incarcerated people in Ohio, Iowa, Minnesota, and Kansas, singing together in harmony.Schlosberg’s new orchestrationfor two French horns, two cellos, two pianos, and percussion — will channel the emotional core of the opera. The instruments reflect Leah’s hope and struggle, from the deep expressivity of the cellos to the bold resolve of the horns. Bolstered by a battery of pianos and drums, the instrumentation pulls listeners through a vast yet intimate journey into Leah’s psyche.Heartbeat updated the libretto once more for our current moment, deepening the company’s commitment to anti-racism in all that they do, collaborating more with their prison choir partners, sharing the production, and sparking important conversations. This tour is Heartbeat’s largest and most ambitious venture yet. They have the opportunity to reach thousands of new audience members, including hundreds of young people, in four cities across the country.


Roc // Derrell AconStan // Curtis BannisterLeah/Lee // Kelly GriffinMarcy // Victoria LawalPizarro // Corey McKernAnd the voices of more than 100 incarcerated singersand 70 volunteers from six prison choirs:

Oakdale Community ChoirIowa Medical and Classification Center, Oakdale, IAMary Cohen, Conductor Ubuntu Men’s ChorusLondon Correctional, London, OHCatherine Roma, Conductor Kuji Men’s Chorus Marion Correctional, Marion, OHCatherine Roma, Conductor Hope Thru Harmony Women’s ChoirDayton Correctional, Dayton, OHCatherine Roma, Conductor Voices of HopeMinnesota Correctional Facility, Shakopee, MNAmanda Weber, Conductor East Hill Singersa program of Arts in PrisonLansing Correctional Facility, Lansing, KSKirk Carson, Conductor
Kelly Griffin facing members of KUJI Men's Chorus. Photo by Russ Rowland. 
Derrell Acon and Kelly Griffin in the 2018 Fidelio; both return in 2022.Photo by Russ Rowland.


Stage Direction // Ethan HeardMusic Direction // Daniel SchlosbergOriginal Movement Direction // Emma Crane JasterMovement Direction & Fight Choreography // Nigel SemajSet Designer // Reid ThompsonCo-Costume Designer // Valérie Thérèse BartCo-Costume Designer // Kara BranchLighting Designer // Oliver WasonSound Designer // Kate MarvinTranslator & Suptertitles // Nicholas BetsonProduction Manager // Rob SignomCompany Manager // David S. Harewood

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