Oscar and Grammy Award-winning composer
Oscar and Grammy Award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz’ new opera, Séance on a Wet Afternoon, will have its World Premiere, Sept. 26 at The Granada in Santa Barbara. The music and libretto for Séance on a Wet Afternoon were both written by Mr. Schwartz, marking his first Opera ever. It is being directed by his son and well-known theatrical director, Scott Schwartz (Bat Boy: The Musical, Golda’s Balcony, Tick,Tick…Boom). Séance on a Wet Afternoon is produced by Opera Santa Barbara and Executive Produced by Michael Jackowitz. Wicked, Godspell, Pippin, Children of Eden, The Prince of Egypt and Enchanted are among Schwartz’ enormously successful works produced over his 40 plus year career.
New York City Opera star Lauren Flanigan (‘Myra’) leads the cast which also includes one of opera’s most versatile baritones, Kim Josephson (‘Bill’). Other principal roles will be sung by Hila Plitman (Mrs. Clayton), John Kimberling (‘Mr. Clayton’), Craig Hart (‘Inspector Watts’).
At the New York City Opera’s VOX New Works Showcase in May, where a segment of the new opera was performed, Schwartz said that he knew instinctively that the story of “Séance on a Wet Afternoon” was right for opera and not musical theatre. “It is moodier and more introspective, and maybe the orchestra is the largest character.” The opera tells the story of ‘Myra,’ a medium who together with her husband, ‘Bill,’ attempts to carry out ‘The Plan’ that will make her famous. ‘The Plan’ is inspired by her deceased son, ‘Arthur,’ and involves the kidnapping of a young girl who ‘Myra’ will find through her psychic powers. Stephen Schwartz made history as the first composer to have three musicals running concurrently on Broadway: Godspell, Pippin and The Magic Show. In addition to the current Broadway phenomenon Wicked, Schwartz has contributed music and/or lyrics to The Baker’s Wife, Working (which he also adapted with Studs Terkel and directed), Personals, Rags and Children of Eden. He collaborated with Leonard Bernstein on the English texts for Bernstein’s Mass and wrote the title song for the play and movie Butterflies Are Free. For children, Schwartz has written songs for two musicals, Captain Louie and Geppetto & Son. For films, he collaborated with Alan Menken on the songs for Disney’s Enchanted as well as the animated features Pochahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame and wrote the songs for the DreamWorks’ animated feature The Prince of Egypt. Schwartz has released two CDs of new songs entitled Reluctant Pilgrim and Uncharted Territory. A book about his career, Defying Gravity, has recently been released by Applause Books. Under the auspices of the ASCAP Foundation, Schwartz runs musical theatre workshops in New York and Los Angeles, and is currently the President of the Dramatists’ Guild. He is the recipient of three Academy Awards, four Grammy Awards, four Drama Desk Awards, a star on the Hollywood “Walk of Fame”, and a tiny handful of tennis trophies.
The sets for Séance on a Wet Afternoon are being created by Tony Award-winning designer Heidi Ettinger, with lighting design by David Lander and costumes by Alejo Vietti. Opera Santa Barbara Music Director Valery Ryvkin is conducting, and Matt Williams is choreographer.
The cast also includes: Benjamin Brecher, Caroline Worra, Gabriel Manro, Michael Marcotte, Kelsey Lee Smith (‘Adriana’), and Aaron Refvem (‘Arthur’). In the ensemble chorus are: Deborah Bertling, Danielle Bond, Julie Davis, Eric Carampton, Andrew Fernando, Darla Mattern, Jesse Merlin, Victoria Robertson, Tom Hurd, Jennifer Wallace, and Bray Wilkins. Madeline Marquis will understudy the role of ‘Adriana.’
Additional performances of the opera will be on October 2 and 4 (matinee). All performances will be at The Granada, 1214 State Street in Santa Barbara. For information about the opera, visit: wwwseancetheopera.com or the Opera Santa Barbara website: wwwoperasb.com. Tickets will be released for sale to the general public on August 1, and can be purchased from The Granada Box Office by phone: 805.899.2222.