Opera Manhattan Commissions a Modern American Faust for the Ages
Fresh on the heels of its successful Opera Festival, Opera Manhattan proudly announced this weekend that it has commissioned a new opera, The Passion of Madame Faust, from composer Demetrius Spaneas and librettist Alexandra Honigsberg. The first performance of portions of the work is scheduled for October 28, 2012, at Flushing Town Hall in Flushing, Queens, thanks to a grant from Flushing Town Hall. Further partial performances are scheduled at six-month intervals, with the first full production scheduled for October, 2014.
Announcement parties and fundraisers are scheduled for summer and fall at venues such as SoHo Gallery for Digital Art (135 Sullivan St.) and others TBA. Please visit and “like” the project’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ThePassionofMadameFaust). A crowd-funding site will be launched in the near future.
In the Spaneas-Honigsberg updated operatic drama where Passion is key, Madame Faust is a professor at a prestigious university and a woman “of a certain age” who is facing death after having totally dedicated her entire life to her career. She enters into a wager with the devil – for her soul, of course – in exchange for renewed youth and a second chance to discover life outside of the academy, including love – and she believes that she is clever enough to win vs. the devil and death both! Madame Faust is a soprano, her assistant Dario Papas is a tenor, her gay best friend and colleague David Primeaux is a baritone, the angel of passion and contracts Kaliel is a mezzo-soprano, and as in other versions of the story, Mephistopheles is a bass-baritone.
Spaneas, an award-winning composer and virtuoso multi-wind performer, travels the world as a musical ambassador, connecting classical, jazz, and traditional music throughout the US, Eastern Europe, and Asia to create international dialogue through artistic collaboration. He has worked with such diverse artists as John Cage, Ray Charles, and Kyrgyz traditional musicians, and has been featured soloist and composer at major concert venues and international festivals on the three continents. Honigsberg is a poet, fiction writer, scholar, professor of comparative religion and philosophy, and professional musician, this year’s 10 anniversary winner of New York’s Poem in your Pocket competition. The Spaneas-Honigsberg team has been collaborating on musical projects in trios and duos since ’07 as part of Wolf’s Gang and other ensembles.
Opera Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s recent Opera Festival recent Opera Festival “pack[ed] an emotional punch, or rather three…In the hands of Opera Manhattan’s artists, these were presented as narratives of strength, as well as weakness. ….[If] undertaking them all on one night, proceed with caution and tissues.” The company has grown from a single performance project to heights that include acclaimed performances of Schönberg’s Erwartung, Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, and Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine, as well as an annual production of Hansel and Gretel described by one critic in 2011 as “a welcome alternative to the big-budget version being staged further uptown.”
Opera Manhattan serves the New York metro area by producing and performing both popular and unusual operas, and strives to empower emerging artists, encourage creative thinking, and develop business-minded artists—a company for artists by artists. Further information is available at