On May 6 2018, Experiments in Opera premiered And Here We Are, the new shadow puppet opera from co-founder Matthew Welch with libretto by Daniel Neer, in a sold-out show at Brooklyn NYC's National Sawdust. This 90-minute work for 4 vocal soloists and mixed ensemble is staged using an updated take on traditional Javanese shadow puppetry and will feature Welch’s long-time ensemble Blarvuster with Mantra Percussion. And Here We Are is based on the memoirs of Matthew’s great uncle Edgar, and is being developed with director and designer Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew.
Elyse Kakacek, soprano
Kate Maroney, mezzo-soprano
Daniel Neer, baritone
Joe Chappel, bass
Ben Holmes, trumpet
Joe Bergen, percussion
Chris Graham, percussion
Mark Utley, percussion
Emily Manzo, piano
Ian Riggs, bass guitar
Joe Tucker, drums
Matthew Welch, conductor
Assistant Direction and Design: Tomas Del Valle
Puppeteers: Emma Wiseman, Meghan Williams, Maria Cama, Justin Perkins, Leah Ogawa
Video Design and Programming: Chris Carcione
Toy Theater of Town Hall built by: Eric (Jiaying) Zhang
Additional Design Edits: Tom Lee
Filmed by Eric Paton
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Matthew Welch is a composer of innovative opera and genre-resisting concert music. Named one of “14 artists changing the future of opera,” by Huffington Post, and regarded as “a composer possessed of both rich imagination and the skill to bring his fancies to life” (Time Out NYC), Matthew’s musical adventures and collaborative spirit have brought him to work with some of today’s most noted musical personalities: Anthony Braxton, Martin Bresnick, Aaron Jay Kernis, David Lang, Alvin Lucier, Ikue Mori, Zeena Parkins, Julia Wolfe, and John Zorn. Mixing his backgrounds in bagpipes, gamelan, experimental, classical, rock and improvised music, Welch’s compositional sound is worldly and eclectic in material, yet personal and seamless in style.
Praised by the New York Times as “exquisitely ethereal” and “border-busting; catchy,” Matthew’s music has been performed in the US, Canada, South America, Europe and Asia. Matthew holds degrees in Music Composition from Yale, Wesleyan and Simon Fraser Universities, and as a bagpiper, he has won three World Pipe Band Championship titles. His ensemble, Blarvuster, has been based in New York City since 2002. Welch co-founded Experiments in Opera in 2011.
Daniel Neer is a librettist, lyricist, playwright and performer. In addition to his collaboration with Matthew Welch for the opera And Here We Are, his libretti includeIndependence Eve with Sidney Marquez Boquiren (UrbanArias and American Opera Projects), and Mercury Falling with Chandler Carter (Long Leaf Opera Festival). As a lyricist for new chamber music and song projects, Daniel’s collaborations include Brooklyn Queens Expressway with Robin McClellan (Queens New Music Festival), Bruce Bailey with Daniel Felsenfeld (Two Sides Sounding), Metamorphosis with Scott Gendel (The Narkissos Project), Gitchee Gumee with Jonathan David (Bar Harbor Music Festival), Summer 1976 with Kim Sherman and Gursky Songs with Alex Burtzos (music/poetry|poetry/music), The Good Doctor Windhager by Ronnie Reshef (Winner of The Secret Opera song competition), MASKS by Alex Burtzos (The New Song), HAIKU NYC with Ellen Mandel (BEAT Festival), and Ellis Island with Jennifer Bernard Merkowitz (Battelle Fine Arts Center at Otterbein University). Daniel’s first play, The Interview, received a world premiere as part of the New Works International Festival for Short Plays at the Richmond Shepherd Theater in New York City, directed by Ted Gorodetzky.
Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew is a theatre designer for theatre, opera, dance, music performances and installation. As a designer she aims to create a visual environment that is organically integrated into the landscape and language of the production. Her designs were described as “clever” and “inventive” (NY Times) and that it “contains the vibrant richness of a Caravaggio painted in neon”.
Her designs have been seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Rose Theater Jazz at Lincoln Center, Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC), HERE Arts Center, St. Ann’s Warehouse, La Mama ETC, The Kitchen, ArtsEmerson, Manhattan School of Music, Joyce SOHO, Bard Music Festival, REDCAT, Highways Performance Space, and internationally at Havana, Prague, Lima, Edinburgh, Tokyo, Graz Austria and Bloemfontein South Africa. Jeanette received the Bel Geddes Design Enhancement award for her lighting and projection design for Ludic Proxy. She was the recipient of the 2009-2011 NEA/TCG Career Development Program and was the 2006 Gilbert Hemsley Jr. lighting internship.