Opera Fusion: New Works Selects New American Opera FELLOW TRAVELERS for 2013 Residency


Fellow Travelers Music by Gregory Spears Libretto by Greg Pierce

November 17-26, 2013

Workshop will use resources of Cincinnati Opera and CCM Opera Free public performance of the work in progress will be held November 26

CINCINNATI, OH — Cincinnati Opera and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) Opera Program are pleased to announce the selection of a new American opera, Fellow Travelers, for the Opera Fusion: New Worksprogram’s third year of residencies. 

Fellow Travelers, composed by Gregory Spears with a libretto by Greg Pierce, will receive a workshop from November 17 to 26, 2013. Mr. Pierce’s libretto is adapted from the best-selling 2007 novel by Thomas Mallon. The director of the work is Kevin Newbury, who directed Cincinnati Opera’s 2007 production of Nixon in China. Mark Gibson, Director of Orchestral Studies at CCM, will conduct. G. Sterling Zinsmeyer is the executive producer of Fellow Travelers. The workshop will culminate in a public performance on Tuesday, November 26; location and ticket information will be announced at a later date. 

“We’re thrilled to be developing this piece through Opera Fusion: New Works,” said librettist Greg Pierce. “Thomas Mallon’s novel is a gripping love story that takes place during a chilling and overlooked era in American history, when paranoia destroyed the lives of many gays and lesbians in the State Department. It’s an honor to bring this story to the stage. I can think of no better place to develop it than Cincinnati Opera and CCM.”


“What drew us to Fellow Travelers is that it contains all the classic themes of opera: love, deception, betrayal, and political intrigue,” said composer Gregory Spears. “Developing the piece in Cincinnati is a dream come true, a first chance to experience the words, music, and staging working together to tell this timely story. The libretto is fast-paced and has many overlapping scenes, while the music uses layered textures and switches quickly between solo and ensemble singing. We’re particularly excited to experiment with these story-telling techniques in collaboration with the fantastic musicians at Cincinnati Opera and CCM.” 


“It is a great honor to be selected for inclusion in the prestigious Opera Fusion: New Works residency,” said director Kevin Newbury. “Our creative team has been hard at work developing the new opera Fellow Travelers and we are all thrilled to have the opportunity to gather as a team and work on the material. Workshops of new operas are incredibly valuable to the creative process, allowing us to hear the music and the text, make changes, and chart the course forward. I am confident that having the CCM and Cincinnati Opera staff and talent available to us for two weeks will teach us a great deal about the work and transform our process.”


Opera Fusion: New Works, a unique collaboration between Cincinnati Opera and CCM Opera, was created in 2011 to foster the development of new American operas. The program offers composers or composer/librettist teams the opportunity to workshop an opera during a 10-day residency in Cincinnati, utilizing the talent, personnel, and facilities of both organizations. The workshops are cast with a combination of CCM students and professional artists who have appeared in Cincinnati Opera’s mainstage productions, and each workshop concludes with a public performance. The program is led by co-artistic directors Marcus Küchle, Director of Artistic Operations of Cincinnati Opera, and CCM’s Robin Guarino, the J. Ralph Corbett Distinguished Chair of Opera. Opera Fusion: New Works is generously funded by a $300,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 

CCM Opera is thrilled to begin workshopping our fourth Opera Fusion: New Works project, Fellow Travelers,” said Robin Guarino, co-artistic director of Opera Fusion: New Works. “I was very interested in this piece because I was drawn by the story and its historical and political context. It’s a great subject, and I think the composer and librettist are exceptional.” 

“We chose Fellow Travelers for the 2013 residency due to the great promise of this creative team,” said co-artistic director Marcus Küchle. “We were very impressed with the bodies of work that both Greg and Gregory have produced.” 

In 2011, Opera Fusion: New Works awarded its first workshop to composer Douglas J. Cuomo and librettist John Patrick Shanley in support of their new opera Doubt, which premiered at Minnesota Opera in January 2013. In 2012, Opera Fusion: New Works provided workshops for Champion, by composer Terence Blanchard and librettist Michael Cristofer, which premiered at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in June 2013; and Morning Star, by composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist William M. Hoffman. The program is open to American composers and composer/librettist teams of proven merit, with no age restrictions. Eligibility is restricted to operatic works, either completed or in progress, which have not yet received a professional premiere. Opera Fusion: New Works will continue to offer residencies through 2014, and will begin accepting applications for the 2014 residencies in fall 2013. 

About Fellow Travelers

Based on the best-selling 2007 novel by Thomas Mallon, Fellow Travelers takes place in 1950s Washington, D.C.: a world of bare-knuckled ideology, hard drinking, and secret dossiers. Into this fevered city steps Timothy Laughlin, a recent Fordham graduate and devout Catholic eager to join the crusade against Communism. A chance encounter with a handsome, profligate State Department official, Hawkins Fuller, leads to Tim’s first job in D.C. and — after Fuller’s advances — his first love affair. As McCarthy mounts his desperate bid for power and internal investigations focus on “sexual subversives,” Tim and Hawk find it ever more dangerous to navigate their double lives. Drawn into a maelstrom of deceit and intrigue, Tim struggles to reconcile his political convictions, his love for God, and his love for Fuller — an entanglement that will end in a stunning act of betrayal. Fellow Travelers is an extraordinary journey through the intriguing, gut-wrenching world of the 1950s American witchhunts, revealing an intimate, personal story set against the public, political backdrop of the “Lavender Scare.” 

About composer Gregory Spears

Gregory Spears writes instrumental and vocal music that blends together stylistic aspects of romanticism, minimalism, and early music. His work has been called “astonishingly beautiful” (New York Times), “coolly entrancing” (The New Yorker), and “some of the most beautifully unsettling music to appear in recent memory” (The Boston Globe). His music has been performed by Houston Grand Opera (HGOco), American Opera Projects, Center City Opera Theater, the NOW Ensemble, Present Music Ensemble, So Percussion, the Sebastian Chamber Players, and Eighth Blackbird. New Amsterdam Records released his early music-inspired chamber Requiem in 2011. Current projects include a new collaborative dance opera, Wolf-in-Skins, with choreographer Christopher Williams, and a new completion of the Mozart Requiem, which will be premiered by the Miami-based Seraphic Fire vocal ensemble and the Firebird Chamber Orchestra in fall 2013. He holds degrees from The Eastman School of Music, Yale School of Music, and Princeton University, and has been an artist-in-residence at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony.


About librettist Greg Pierce

Greg Pierce’s play Slowgirl was the inaugural play of Lincoln Center’s Claire Tow Theater. Upcoming productions include Steppenwolf Theatre and the Geffen Playhouse. His original musical The Landing, written with John Kander, will premiere at the Vineyard Theatre next season. His stage adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s novel The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, co-written with director Stephen Earnhart, premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival, and then played the Singapore Arts Festival. Other plays and musicals include Odyssey Room, Kick Stop, and Kid Victory (with John Kander). His work has been developed with Manhattan Theatre Club, Second Stage Theatre, The Rattlestick Theater, Naked Angels, and The New Group. His verses to accompany Saint-Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals (written with Brian Hargrove) were performed at the Hollywood Bowl with the L.A. Philharmonic. He has received fellowships from the Edward F. Albee Foundation, The Djerassi Institute, and the New York Public Library, as well as commissions from Lincoln Center Theater, Second Stage Theatre, and Vermont Stage Company. He is a graduate of Oberlin College and received his MFA from Warren Wilson College. 

About director Kevin Newbury

Kevin Newbury is a theatre, opera, and film director based in New York City. Recent opera credits include the world premiere of The Gospel According to Mary Magdalene (San Francisco Opera), the world premiere of Oscar (Santa Fe Opera), Anna Bolena and the world premiere of Doubt (Minnesota Opera), the world premiere of Paul’s Case (Urban Arias, D.C.), Maria Stuarda (Houston Grand Opera, Minnesota Opera), Roberto Devereux (L’Opéra de Montréal, Minnesota Opera), Falstaff and the world premiere of Life is a Dream (Santa Fe Opera), Galileo Galilei (Portland Opera), Werther (Minnesota Opera), Virginia (Wexford Opera Festival), and Eugene Onegin (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis). Recent New York theater credits include Candy and Dorothy (GLAAD Winner: Best Play, Drama Desk Nominee), The Second Tosca, and Kiss and Cry (GLAAD Nominee). Upcoming engagements include the world premiere of The Manchurian Candidate (Minnesota Opera), Oscar (Opera Company of Philadelphia), Anna Bolena (Chicago Lyric Opera), Norma (Chicago Lyric Opera, San Francisco Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona), and Postcards from Morocco (Portland Opera). Kevin recently completed production on his first film, Monsura is Waiting. Kevin attended Bowdoin College and Oxford University.


About executive producer G. Sterling Zinsmeyer

G. Sterling Zinsmeyer spent his early career in New York City working in classical arts management with Sol Hurok and theater production with producer Saint Subber. This career was interrupted by the AIDS epidemic, in which Mr. Zinsmeyer spent twenty years as a leader in developing special needs residences for persons living with HIV/AIDS. Six years ago Mr. Zinsmeyer resumed his arts career by developing independent films, serving as executive producer on the award-winning film Latter Days and Adam & Steve. In addition to producing, currently he is coordinating an arts integration in higher education program for Baruch College and The Rubin Foundation.

 For more information, visit www.cincinnatiopera.org or call the Cincinnati Opera Box Office at (513) 241-2742. 

 Opera Fusion: New Works is sponsored by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Cincinnati Opera’s 2014 Summer Festival will take place June 12 through July 26, featuring Georges Bizet’s Carmen, Kevin Puts’s Silent Night, Francesco Cavalli’s La Calisto, and Giacomo Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. The season will open with Opera in the Park, a free community concert in Washington Park, on June 8. Cincinnati Opera’s 2014 season is made possible with support from ArtsWave, Ohio Arts Council, The Louise Dieterle Nippert Musical Arts Fund, and many generous individuals, corporations, and foundations.  



CCM Opera’s 2013-14 performance season opens with a Mainstage Series production of Benjamin Britten’s Owen Wingrave (Nov. 21-24), presented as part of a semester-long celebration of the composer’s centenary. Other highlights include a free Studio Series production of Emmanuel Chabrier’s L’Étoile (Feb. 14-16) and a Mainstage Series production of Gaetano Donizetti’s comedic masterpiece Don Pasquale (April 3-6). CCM’s 2013-14 season also includes a concert production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Don Carlos (Sept. 22), a unique staged performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. John Passion (Nov. 3), a guest artist recital by acclaimed baritone Gerald Finley (Feb. 5) and a concert performance of John Adams’s El Niño (March 2). CCM gratefully acknowledges the support of Season Presenting Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation; Community Partner: ArtsWave; Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s; Opera Department Sponsor: Mr. and Mrs. Edward S. Rosenthal; and Benjamin Britten Centenary Celebration Sponsor: The Britten-Pears Foundation. For a full season schedule and additional information, please visit http://ccm.uc.edu