Quarantine Opera (Scenes) Initiative

The Great Plague of Marseille (1720).

On Tuesday, March 17, 2020 – just a handful of days after an order from the Governor of Minnesota closed the state’s theatres – Really Spicy Opera put out a call for interest for a Quarantine Opera (Scenes) Initiative. Two dozen composer-librettist teams and a few composer-librettists responded and were given a set of prompts to write off of in just 48 hours. Submissions soon came pouring in of great comedic, musical, and dramatic quality, forcing our judges to extend the reviewing window to arrive at the final list.

After due consideration, the judges have selected four submissions to stage and virtually perform. The selected scenes for Really Spicy Opera’s Quarantine Opera Initiative are:

  • 6 feet apart, by Bea Goodwin and Felix Jarrar
  • Aborted Party, by Helena Michelson
  • The Handoff, by Daniel Solon and Sean Pflueger
  • Viral, by Cecelia Raeker and Keith Allegretti

Look for these scenes to be brought to life in video form, coming soon to an Internet near you!

The Creators

Clockwise from upper left: Composer Felix Jarrar and librettist Bea Goodwin; composer-librettist Helena Michelson; librettist Cecelia Raeker; composer Sean Pflueger; composer Keith Allegretti; and librettist Daniel Solon.

Keith Allegretti is a composer and pianist who enjoys working comfortably in many genres, including chamber, orchestral, vocal, and electronic music. A native of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Keith’s  opera Good Country, a chamber Western based on a libretto by Cecelia Raker about Charley Parkhurst, a trans stagecoach driver in the California Gold Rush, recently received a workshop performance at the University of Texas thanks to a grant from UT’s College of Fine Arts Diversity Committee. He holds degrees in composition from the University of Texas at Austin, University of Michigan, and Rice University. http://keithallegretti.com/

Bea Goodwin (librettist, 6 feet apart) is a bicoastal librettist/stage director. She has worked on many amazing stages in New York City and around the United States : LaMaMa Experimental Theatre , BAM , (le) Poisson Rouge, the DiMenna Center. She has also created sight-specific opera off the stage as well: the gorgeous gardens at the Mount Vernon Museum, the historic Montauk Club, and behind the gallery walls at the Blue Building. Her next work with Felix is the May 2020 world premier of HindSight: an American murder ballad of the famed 1920s killers Leopold and Loeb. @be_goodwin , http://beagoodwin.com

Felix Jarrar (composer, 6 feet apart) is a composer and pianist whose accomplishments include performances at Symphony Space, LPR, 54 below, BAM’s Fisher Hillman Studio, and Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. His output of approximately 75 works includes 7 operas, over 50 art songs, and a cantata. http://www.felixjarrarmusic.com/

Helena Michelson (composer-librettist, Aborted Party) is a composer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. First trained as a pianist, she studied with Mack McCray at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and in master classes, with Richard Goode and Awadagin Pratt.  She completed her studies in Music at the University of California, Berkeley (BA) and University of California, Davis (PhD).  She has been a fellow at numerous festivals including Composers Conference, June in Buffalo, and Domaine Forget in Québec, a participating composer in the 2018 Opera From Scratch program (Halifax, Canada), and a finalist in the 2017 HGOco Song of Houston Composer Call. http://helenamichelson.com/

Sean Pflueger (composer, The Handoff) is a Washington DC area composer with a focus on works for the voice. His operas include: The Pier Point Lobster Race, Children in the Mist, Do Not Disturb, and Brides and Mothers. His music has been performed by The College Light Opera Company, Riverbend Opera Company, Forgotten Opera Company, Loudoun Lyric Opera, Opera on Tap- Twin Cities & DC Metro Opera. He received the Strauss Fellowship from the Arts Council of Fairfax County. As a singer, he has performed as a soloist with choruses and in operas, including as a member of Washington National Opera Chorus. https://www.seanpflueger.com/

Cecelia Raeker (librettist, Viral) is a playwright, dramaturg, and librettist from Santa Fe NM. She’s fascinated by the power of fantastical imagination at turning points in women’s lives, and by stories of people at the margins who don’t neatly fit into their dominant culture’s boxes. Current projects include an interactive challah-baking solo performance piece, a YA novel that mashes up Chasidic shtetl life with a shapeshifting fairytale, and a binary-busting TYA mermaid adventure. Good Country, her chamber opera about a trans stagecoach driver during the California Gold Rush, was workshopped at UT Austin’s Cohen New Works Festival in April 2019 and featured recently in the New York Times. Cecelia and composer Keith Allegretti are one of the first teams ever to craft a lead role in contemporary opera specifically for a trans singer. Awards and productions include the Kennedy Center’s Darrel Ayers TYA Playwriting Awards (1st place 2019 for Webbed Hands, 2nd place 2018 for La Llorona), the 2016 Princess Grace Award (runner up), the 2016 Kilroys List (honorable mention), and a 2017-2018 Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship. Her work has been developed and produced with Fresh Ink Theatre, Cohesion Theatre, Venus Theatre, the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, the Boston Theater Marathon, the Great Plains Theater Conference, the ART’s Loeb Ex, and a variety of other venues. She’s humbled and grateful to be working toward an MFA at the Michener Center for Writers/UT Austin with her brilliant class of 2020 cohort. https://ceceliaraker.weebly.com/

Daniel Solon (librettist, The Handoff) is a theatre maker whose stage work has been seen in the US and Europe. Since completing an MFA at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and an MA from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, he has worked with the Bush Theatre, the Royal Opera House (London), The Barbican, Aldeburgh Music at Snape Maltings, Opera Philadelphia, Tapestry Opera, One Ounce Opera, ENAensemble, and mentored libretto creation at Longy School of Music of Bard College.

Drama that burns and music that sates.