Overview

Travel back in time to the inspired gatherings at 27 rue de Fleurus in Paris, where American expatriates Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas hosted luminaries of art and literature such as Pablo Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henri Matisse and Ernest Hemingway.

In 27, composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist Royce Vavrek explore themes of love, loss, change and art as they tell Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas’s story chronologically, from before World War I through World War II, to Stein’s death and beyond.

March 2 & 3 at Arthur Miller Theatre, Ann Arbor
March 10 & 11 at Macomb Center for the Performing Arts (directions)

The New York Times: “If the music of Ricky Ian Gordon had to be defined by a single quality, it would be the bursting effervescence infusing songs that blithely blur the lines between art song and the high–end Broadway music of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. It’s caviar for a world gorging on pizza!”

From Stephen Lord:  “David DiChiera and I have long shared a dedication
to developing the next generation of artists. This opera provides the perfect roles to showcase the talent of our studio artists and continues our commitment to the ‘Opera of Our Time’ initiative.”

Presented in partnership with Macomb Center for the Performing Arts and The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

Total running time is 95 minutes (no intermission)

Patrons’ Reviews

 

Opera Talks


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The composer himself will conduct the pre-curtain Opera Talks, which begin one hour before each performance. Don’t miss Ricky Ian Gordon’s engaging presentations. (Free to ticketed patrons.)

Learn More

27: Bravo playbill
27: Classroom Guide
27: Adult Study Guide
Between the Lines: Q&A With ’27’ Soprano Monica Dewey

Artists

Briana Elyse Hunter

Gertrude Stein

Briana Elyse Hunter returns for her second year as Michigan Opera Theatre Studio’s resident mezzo-soprano. Her MOT credits include Wowkle in The Girl of the Golden West, Jo March in Little Women, Madeleine Audebert in Silent Night and Mercedes in Carmen. She has been on the rosters of Santa Fe Opera, Knoxville Opera, American Opera Projects, Opera in the Heights, the I SING BEIJING festival, Sarasota Opera, El Paso Opera and Music Academy of the West. She most recently performed at The Glimmerglass Festival as Annie in Porgy and Bess and covered Arsamenes in Xerxes. She holds a Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music in vocal performance and a bachelor’s degree in theater from Davidson College. This season, she will perform Giovanna and cover Maddalena in Rigoletto and star as Gertrude Stein in Ricky Ian Gordon’s 27 with MOT.

Briana Elyse Hunter

Gertrude Stein

Monica Dewey

Alice B. Toklas

Monica Dewey is Michigan Opera Theatre Studio’s resident soprano. She recently performed her second season with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, where she made her role debut as Servilia in Titus (La Clemenza di Tito). She has been a young artist with Chautauqua Voice Institute, Lyric Opera Studio Weimar and Harrower Opera Workshop. Monica was recently named the first place winner of the Hilde Zadek International Voice Competition in Vienna, Austria. She received her Master of Music degree from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music and a dual bachelor’s degree in Music and Arts Administration from the University of Kentucky.  This fall, she makes her debut with San Francisco Opera singing Poussette in Manon. She will perform the role of Alice Toklas in MOT’s 27 in March.

Monica Dewey

Alice B. Toklas

Michael Day

Picasso, Fitzgerald

Tenor Michael Day makes his Michigan Opera Theatre debut this season as a Michigan Opera Theatre Studio Artist. His performance credits include singing with Indiana University Opera Theatre, the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Indianapolis Pro Musica, the Bloomington Chamber Singers and Utah Festival Opera, where he worked as a young artist. He recently returned to the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis this summer as a Richard Gaddes Festival Artist, singing the role of Al Joad in a new performing version of Ricky Ian Gordon’s The Grapes of Wrath. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music education and vocal performance from Indiana University and is currently completing a master’s degree from the university. This season, Michael will perform Don Basilio in The Marriage of Figaro, the dual role of Pablo Picasso/F. Scott Fitzgerald in Gordon’s 27 and Spoletta in Tosca at MOT.

Michael Day

Picasso, Fitzgerald

Harry Greenleaf

Leo Stein, Man Ray

Wixom, Michigan native Harry Greenleaf is Michigan Opera Theatre Studio’s resident baritone. He made his debut with Michigan Opera Theatre in 2016 in the role of Top in The Tender Land. His credits with MOT also include Le Bret in Cyrano, Jack Wallace in The Girl of the Golden West and Morales in Carmen. He has been a Studio Artist with the Wolf Tap Opera Company, an Apprentice Artist with Des Moines Metro Opera and a Young Artist with the Glimmerglass Festival. He holds a Master of Music degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and is an alumnus of the Michigan State University College of Music. This season, Harry will perform with MOT as Marullo in Rigoletto, Sciarrone in Tosca and the roles of Leo Stein and Man Ray in Ricky Ian Gordon’s 27.

Harry Greenleaf

Leo Stein, Man Ray

Erik Van Heyningen

Matisse, Hemingway

Bass-baritone Erik van Heyningen makes his debut at Michigan Opera Theatre as a Studio Artist. He has sung with opera companies across the country, including performing as a Richard Gaddes Festival Artist and a Gerdine Young Artist with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Erik performed as an Apprentice Artist at Santa Fe Opera this summer. An avid recitalist, Erik has appeared in recital in cities such as Toronto, San Diego, Boston, and New York. This season, Erik will perform Count Ceprano in Rigoletto, Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro (cover), Ernest Hemingway in Ricky Ian Gordon’s 27 and Angelotti and the Jailer in Tosca at MOT.

Erik Van Heyningen

Matisse, Hemingway

Roberto Kalb

Conductor

Roberto Kalb is currently the Resident Conductor and Head of Music at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Upcoming engagements include debuts with Tulsa Opera (Il barbiere di Siviglia) and Kentucky Opera (Rigoletto). A University of Michigan graduate, Kalb’s awards include: Winner of the American Prize; Second Prize in the Washington International Composition Competition; and the Ann Arbor Symphony Sight and Sound Competition Award. Former credits include conducting the San Francisco premiere of Rossini’s La scala di seta, conducting the Orquesta Carlos Chávez in Mexico City, the Orquestra Sinfonica da USP in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and most recently, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra as cover conductor for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. He recently assisted productions at Canadian Opera Company, Michigan Opera Theatre, and Florida Grand Opera. As an active composer, his music has been performed in Mexico, France, Germany, and throughout the United States. Kalb holds degrees from the University of Michigan, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and New England Conservatory of Music.

Roberto Kalb

Conductor

Jeffrey Buchman

Director

Opera News calls Director Jeffrey Buchman “a formidable talent.” Constantly pushing the limits of the performing arts, Mr. Buchman’s versatility leads him to a variety of venues to explore some of opera’s classics while also constantly premiering new works. His innovation puts him at the forefront of a new era in directing. This season, Mr. Buchman will direct Le nozze di Figaro and Madama Butterfly at Opera Naples, L’elisir d’amore for the Brancaleoni International Music Festival, Tesla at SoBe Arts, and As One, a new work that Buchman recently directed at Opera Colorado, with Hawaii Opera Theatre. He will also be directing a show featuring all the resident artists from Michigan Opera Theatre’s upcoming season that will be both performed at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts and later presented in smaller performances at art gallery spaces. Additionally, this season Buchman has taken the position of Stage Director for the Frost School of Music at University of Miami.

Jeffrey Buchman

Director

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Synopsis

Setting: 27 rue de Fleurus in Paris, France through the two World Wars.

Overview

27 is a prologue and five acts about the American writer Gertrude Stein and her partner Alice B. Toklas. 27 follows the salons hosted by Gertrude and Alice in their home at 27 rue de Fleurus (27 Fleurus Street) in Paris. Spanning about forty years, 27 explores the relationship between Gertrude and Alice while touching upon ideas of genius and collaboration. 27 was commissioned by the Opera Theater of Saint Louis in 2014.

Prologue: Alice Knits the World

Alice B. Toklas sits in the living room at 27 rue de Fleurus and thinks back to the life she shared with Gertrude Stein.

Act One: 27 rue de Fleurus

Gertrude enters her salon and invites her guests to peruse her collection of art. Pablo Picasso unveils his painting of Gertrude in a ceremony that causes Leo Stein to become upset and Henri Matisse to be jealous. Leo announces that he is moving to Italy and angrily leaves the salon. Gertrude and Alice celebrate his departure and the “bells of genius and love” chime. 

Act Two: Zeppelins

Gertrude and Alice endure the First World War in Paris. Gertrude continues to write as cold sets in and food becomes scarce. An American doughboy, a term for members of the American Expeditionary Forces, stationed in Paris becomes their friend. He gives them coal and cigarettes but does not return with sought-after eggs. They add the boy to the tally of a “Lost Generation.”

Act Three: Génération Perdue

After the war, Gertrude becomes more interested in writers than painters. She is now welcoming the likes of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, as well as the photographer Man Ray. Hemingway and Fitzgerald are desperate for Gertrude’s endorsement. Gertrude insists that the two should engage in a wrestling match, and the winner will be declared a genius. The writers are kicked out of the salon as the Second World War approaches.

Act Four: Gertrude Stein is Safe, Safe

Gertrude and Alice survive the Second World War by sacrificing paintings. Picasso’s portrait of Gertrude plagues her conscience, asking her to explain how a Jewish-American author survived Nazi-occupied France. The guilt eats away at her and she dies in Alice’s arms.

Act Five: Alice Alone

Alice, now alone, is surprised by Picasso’s return. They say goodbye to the portrait of Gertrude as it is shipped off to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Picasso sketches an image of Gertrude for Alice as the “bells of genius and love” chime once more.

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