Friday, August 28 (the last day but one of Ostrava Days) is reserved to two operas. The first one is by the composer George Lewis, tutor of the Columbia University in New York and it is titled Afterword. It starts at 18.30 in the Jiří Myron Theatre and it will be the European premiere performed by three singers from Chicago.
The primary source of the libretto and numerous scenes of the opera are elements from the George Lewis´s book on AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) published in 2008 (Power stronger than itself: AACM and American Experimental Music). AACM was founded in 1965 in the Chicago quarter called South Side. It won an international acclaim for the main role it had played in the history of the African-American avant-garde jazz and new and experimental music.
Despite its nominal designation as an “opera,” Afterword departs markedly from operatic convention. Both the rehearsals and the performances are conceived as combined pre-structured music, text, scenography, and movement in juxtaposition with analogous elements improvised in real time. The opera´s singers who interpret both notated and improvised music, sounds and spoken word, will be called upon to act and move, as well as taking on multiple roles, creating and transforming both the scene and their own personae and appearances. The stage will be made of sets of objects and pictures from public and private archives and screening of sculptures, photographs, videos and audio recordings.
The book chapter Afterword was conceived as a virtual AACM meeting, an inter-generation discussion where connecting issues are discussed which are faced by this organization but also more generally by all our society all the time. The opera deals with various historical periods that AACM underwent – large African-American migration, urbanization of American life, decolonizations and fight for human rights – exploring how new relationships between expression, culture, politics, race and personal ambitions can form depending on class, race and gender tinged fixed approaches and worries of the American cultural life. The goal is to touch the most essential human conflicts influencing each of us.
Sean Griffin – a Los Angeles based director, composer and conductor - took the directing. Three Chicago singers will present themselves in solo roles - Joelle Lamarre (soprano), Gwendolyn Brown (contralto) and Julian Terrell Otis (tenor) – see the enclosed photo. Ostravská banda will appear in the role of the opera orchestra and its members will also take hold of the other work performed at this opera evening. At 20.30 will start Master-pieces by Petr Kotík staged by the directing and stage-set team Jiří Nekvasil and David Bazika in the Antonín Dvořák Theatre. In the main roles feature two New York performers – Kamala Sankaram (soprano) and Pauline Kim Harris (violin).
Both the opera performances are produced by the Ostrava Center for New Music in cooperation with the National Moravian-Silesian Theatre.