WATCH: Opera Fusion New Works presents "Bulrusher"
CCM students star in the workshop at Cincinnati Opera; excerpts are available online
The Cincinnati Opera recently released recordings of excerpts from Bulrusher, a new opera workshopped during Opera Fusion: New Works in December 2021. With music by Nathaniel Stookey and a libretto by Stookey and playwright Eisa Davis, the performance stars current CCM Opera students. Watch the excerpts online.
Opera Fusion: New Works is a dynamic partnership between Cincinnati Opera and CCM which offers composer/librettist teams the opportunity to workshop an opera during a 10-day residency in Cincinnati. Founded in 2011, Opera Fusion supports the curation of new American opera and is led by co-artistic directors Robin Guarino (CCM Opera) and Evans Mirageas (Cincinnati Opera).
Bulrusher, based on the play of the same name, was commissioned by West Edge Opera. Stage director Mark Streshinksy and conductor Emily Senturia worked with the composer and CCM student singers for the workshop presentation, which was recorded on December 6, 2021.
The opera is set in 1955, centered around Bulrusher, a young Black woman who lives in the predominantly white town of Boonville, California. She is an orphan, adopted by the schoolteacher Schoolch and raised alongside the local brothel owner, Madame. Bulrusher’s world changes when Vera comes strolling into town from Alabama. This is the first time Bulrusher has met another Black woman face to face, leading her to discover an entirely new sense of self.
In addition to Streshinsky and Senturia, the workshop features the work of dramaturg Leigh Rondon-Davis, assistant conductor William Langley (MM Orchestral Conducting, ’18), pianists Marie-France Lefebvre (CCM Opera/Voice Professor) and Samuel Martin (MM Collaborative Piano, '16) and workshop manager Constance Dubinski Grubbs. The cast features Victoria Ellington (Bulrusher), Ariana Maubach (Madame), John Mburu (Logger), Evans Mirageas (Schoolch), Kendra Beasley (Vera), Logan Wagner (Boy), and a chorus featuring Ashlyn Rock, Tanya Harris, Jaime Sharp, Arieh Sacke and Atticus Rego.
About CCM Opera
CCM’s Department of Opera is one of the nation’s most comprehensive and highly recognized training programs for opera singers, coaches and directors. The program integrates the highest standards in voice training and musical coaching with comprehensive and challenging dramatic preparation. The program consists of dedicated teaching artists who are also celebrated professionals in their own right, widely and currently active in their respective fields.
As a result of this world-class training, CCM students enter their professions ready to succeed. Students and alumni regularly take top awards in major competitions including the Metropolitan Opera’s Eric and Dominique Laffont Competition (formerly known as the National Council Auditions). In 2021, Raven McMillon (MM Voice, ’20) was named a Grand Finals Winner of the competition. In 2019, student Elena Villalón was named a Grand Finals Winner of this competition. This marked the second consecutive year that a CCM singer “won the Met,” which is widely considered to be the nation’s most prestigious vocal competition. CCM alumna Jessica Faselt (MM Voice, 2016) was named a Grand Finals Winner in 2018. Faselt also received a prestigious Sara Tucker Grant award from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation earlier this year alongside fellow CCM alumna Kayleigh Decker (MM Voice, 2017).
Featured image at the top: Bulrusher Opera Fusion: New Works workshop. Image/Cincinnati Opera.
CCM Graduate Assistant, Marketing + Communications
Jaime Sharp is a master's student studying Vocal Performance at CCM. She serves as the Vice President of the CCM Graduate Student Association and Student Liaison for the CCM DEI Committee. Jaime holds a bachelor's from the University of Michigan.