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Chelsea Opera announces for June 2015:

Adams National Historical Park - Quincy, MA
A Distant Love:
Songs of John and Abigail Adams

music by Gary S. Fagin
libretto by Terry Quinn


June 21, 2015 - 2:00pm

SYNOPSIS - see below

Interviews with Margaret A. Hogan
former editor of the Adams Papers Massachusetts Historical Society and co-editor of My Dearest Friend
Watch Video Interviews

Read the libretto

Channeling John and Abigail - the genesis of A Distant Love by Terry Quinn

Based on the letters exchanged between these two iconic patriots during John’s years abroad as he worked to secure financial support from the Dutch for a new nation. Back home, Abigail single handedly maintained their farm in Braintree, MA, surviving war, economic deprivation, disease and heartache. 
sung by Peter Kendall Clark
sung by Victora Tralongo
this program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
the performance is made possible with public funds
from the New York State Council on the Arts,
a state agency.

Meet Terry Quinn - librettist
Terry Quinn is the author of two novels, a biography and a volume of poetry. His short stories, memoir pieces and plays have appeared in many literary journals and national magazines. He has written, directed and performed in numerous dramas and comedies produced on stages in New York City, England, France, Holland and Germany, and on National Public Radio. With George Plimpton, he co-authored One Sunday at the Fitzgeralds and Zelda, Scott and Ernest �?the latter having featured Norman Mailer as Ernest Hemingway in the premiere performance. He also wrote the book, lyrics and music for two music theater works including Rasputin. A volume of his poetry, Mad for Newyorktown, (published by Straw House Press) has been set to music by Gary S. Fagin.

Two chamber operas for which he wrote the librettos have received seven productions, including world premiere performances at the 92nd Street Y’s Kaufmann Concert Hall in New York City (Hester Prynne at Death, with music by Stephen Paulus), and The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam (John Adams in Amsterdam: A Song for Abigail, with music by Gary S. Fagin). A dramatic song cycle, titled A Distant Love: Songs of John and Abigail Adams, for which he wrote the libretto (score by Gary S. Fagin), had a three-performance world premiere at the Brooklyn Historical Society in the fall of 2009. Mr. Quinn is collaborating with composer Stephen Paulus on a full-length opera titled The Birthmark. He is also completing the librettos for a dramatic song cycle, Legendary Deaths, and a one-act opera, Oscar / Sarah / Salome, as well as a music theater work titled Georgette’s Last Rehearsal, for which he is writing the playscript, lyrics and score.

Meet Gary S. Fagin - composer

GARY S. FAGIN has conducted, composed, orchestrated and arranged music for symphony orchestras across the country, ballet, Broadway and Off-Broadway, Public Radio, regional and repertory theaters and university and conservatory orchestras.

Mr. Fagin is Founder and Music Director of New York City’s Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra and Music Director of the Bucks County (PA) Symphony Orchestra. He conducts the New Jersey Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker and has appeared as conductor with numerous regional orchestras.

Mr. Fagin served as Musical Director and Conductor for seven years at the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven and for three seasons at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge. His many theater conducting credits include The Three Penny Opera with Sting on Broadway and Stephen Paulus’s Hester Prynne at Death at New York City’s 92 nd Street Y. He composed, orchestrated, and conducted the music for Charlotte: Life? Or Theater?, a music theater work based on the life and work of artist Charlotte Salomon; his Dramatic Song Cycle, John Adams in Amsterdam: A Song for Abigail, with libretto by Terry Quinn, received its world premiere performance at The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam before Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands in April, 2005.

In January 2010, his And Bold To Fall Withal, Henry Hudson in the New World, composed to celebrate the 400 th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s sail into New York harbor, was given its world premiere performance with tenor Jason Danieley and the Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra at New York City’s World Financial Center Winter Garden. In January 2011, a suite from Mr. Fagin’s music theater work-in-progress, Robert Moses Astride New York, received its premiere performance at the World Financial Center Winter Garden, with the Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra and tenor Rinde Eckert singing the title role.

In addition to his compositions for orchestra and music theater, Mr. Fagin has composed works for chamber ensembles, piano and voice and solo instruments. He studied composition with George Crumb and George Rochberg at The University of Pennsylvania; violoncello with Orlando Cole of The Curtis Quartet; and conducting with Otto-Werner Mueller at The Yale School of Music, where he received the first Doctorate Degree in Conducting ever awarded by Yale.

Mr. Fagin was Assistant Professor and Conductor at The University of Wisconsin-Madison and later Hofstra University. He has taught at Yale University, The Juilliard School, The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and New York University. He is Founder and Director of The New York Conducting Studio; his students conduct major and regional orchestras, on Broadway, and attend America's most prestigious music conservatories.

For four seasons Mr. Fagin's arrangements were broadcast weekly on Garrison Keillor's PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION on American Public Radio. He has orchestrated music for the Boston Pops, Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, Sandy Duncan, Tom Chapin and for recordings by Rob Fisher & The Coffee Club Orchestra and The Manhattan Rhythm Kings. Mr. Fagin's edition of Kurt Weill's HAPPY END is published by European American Music. His transcriptions of works by Duke Ellington are available through The Smithsonian Jazz Anthology.

Meet Margaret A. Hogan

Margaret A. Hogan is the former managing editor of the Adams Papers editorial project at the Massachusetts Historical Society. She was the lead editor for volumes 7�?1 of the Adams Family Correspondence series, and with her colleague C. James Taylor, coedited My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007). Before that she held editorial positions with the Ratification of the Constitution documentary editing project, Oxford University Press, and the Greenwood Publishing Group. She trained in history at Swarthmore College and the University of Wisconsin–Madison, specializing in American religious and women’s history. Originally from Connecticut and following a lengthy detour in Wisconsin, she now resides in the Boston suburb of Brookline, Massachusetts, where she works as an independent editorial consultant.


Joining us on Saturday for a pre-matinee lecture will be Margaret A. Hogan, former editor of the Adams Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society and co-editor of My Dearest Friend.  Ms. Hogan's presentation will note:

Always articulate and candid, John and Abigail used letters to cement their relationship, debate literature and ideas, report news, raise their children, maintain their household, and engage in the political debates of their day. While famous for their partnership, the best-documented periods of the Adamses�?lives are, ironically, when the two were separated. Their misfortune is our good fortune, allowing us to trace the development of their relationship and their important role in the American Revolution and the formation of a new nation.

view interviews with Margaret A. Hogan

For more information on the Adams family and their letters, visit the Massachusetts Historical Society - Adams Family Papers

The 1780's were breakthrough years for the string quartet. In 1781 and 1782 Joseph Haydn composed his six exquisite Opus 33 quartets and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart began composition of ten celebrated ten quartets, dedicated to Haydn, that would redefine the string quartet genre.

Thus, it seemed appropriate to accompany John Adams in Amsterdam with a string quartet, the newest and most vibrant chamber music medium with which cultured Europeans would have been familiar in the 1780s. 

The score is predominantly lyrical, almost romantic, befitting John Adams' heartfelt affection for his Abigail, though at times the music is infused with an American folksiness reflecting his rustic and forthright nature.

Although we considered using a different orchestration to accompany Abigail in the Colonies, the string quartet medium worked so well for John that we decided to keep the same accompaniment for Abigail.

As Abigail was struggling to survive in the midst of an active conflict, her life was more fraught with drama than was John's life in Europe. Thus, for Abigail, the music has more contrast, ranging from militaristic rhythms to intensely personal lyricism.

The portion of A Distant Love titled “John Adams in Amsterdam: A Song for Abigail�?was commissioned as a separate work, in 2004, by the John Adams Institute. It received its premiere performance at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw on April 13, 2005, with Queen Beatrice of the Netherlands in attendance. In that production, the role of John Adams was created by baritone Richard Lalli. Two subsequent productions were mounted at St. Francis College’s Maroney Theater in Brooklyn Heights (2006), and at the Brooklyn Historical Society (2007).




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