Apr 12, 2023
Roadtrip! After many long months of necessary virtual collaboration, the creative team behind The Pigeon Keeper, a Santa Fe Opera Opera For All Voices (OFAV) commission, finally got to spread their wings for an emotional workshop in San Francisco.
Key Change co-hosts Andrea Fellows Fineberg and Anna Garcia discover what it was like to have everyone (well, almost everyone) in the same room for the very first time––featuring composer David Hanlon, librettist Stephanie Fleischmann, stage director Mary Birnbaum, music director Kelly Kuo, dramaturg Cori Ellison, Ruth Nott, consultant for OFAV, plus Elinore (Ellie) Pett-Ridge Hennessy, Azaria Stauffer-Barney, and Ruby Recht-Appel, all members of the San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC).
"Stephanie and I really love working and responding in the moment," says David, excited to sit beside The Pigeon Keeper's librettist in real time and space.
For those unfamiliar with the process of developing new operatic works, workshops put the pieces and performers together for a rigorous, accelerated series of rehearsals, and what some may call a smash-through – the first time the piece is heard by the artists in person all the way through, without stopping (even if there are mistakes.) Then the piece is presented to an invited audience of folks who may be interested to produce or present the opera in the future. “We're always trying things out, which is really exciting. But,” David admits, “there's a lot of flux to that.”
Workshops are, by their nature, intense. Witnessing The Pigeon Keeper live, with its fairytale-like exploration of chosen family and mass migration, profoundly impacted participants of this workshop, especially members of the San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC), whose voices add poignant commentary to the storytelling. "I'm not gonna lie to you. I read through the music, and I started tearing up," recalls Ellie. "It just feels like home."
And it feels one step closer to realizing The Pigeon Keeper as a fully staged production.
David Hanlon - Composer, The Pigeon Keeper
Stephanie Fleischmann - Librettist, The Pigeon Keeper
Mary Birnbaum - Stage Director
Kelly Kuo - Music Director
Cori Ellison - Dramaturg
Ruth Nott - Consultant, Opera for All Voices
Elinore (Ellie) Pett-Ridge Hennessy, Azaria Stauffer-Barney, and Ruby Recht-Appel - Members, San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) led by Artistic Director Valérie Sainte-Agathe
Key Change is a production of The Santa Fe Opera in collaboration with Opera for All Voices.
Produced and edited by Andrea Klunder at The Creative Impostor Studios
Hosted by Andrea Fellows Fineberg & Anna Garcia
Audio Engineer: Kabby at Kabby Sound Studios in Santa Fe
Show Notes by Lisa Widder
Theme music by Rene Orth with Corrie Stallings, mezzo-soprano, and Joe Becktell, cello
Cover art by Dylan Crouch
This podcast is made possible due to the generous funding from the Hankins Foundation, the Andrew W Mellon foundation, and an Opera America innovation Grant supported by the Anne & Gordon Getty Foundation.
To learn more about Opera For All Voices, visit us at SantaFeOpera.org.