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Chelsea Opera announces:

The Mark of Cain

music by Matthew Harris
libretto by Terry Quinn

The Mark of Cain


November 8, 9, 10, 2012


SYNOPSIS - see below

St. Peter's Church in Chelsea
346 W 20th St (8th/9th Ave) NYC

An Opera on the Origins of Vengeance, Love and Murder

Learn how a libretto is born
"What Librettists Do"

by Terry Quinn

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.

Benjamin Britten's

Canticle II, Opus 51 - Abraham and Isaac

hear a short music excerpt:

Chelsea Opera is pleased to announce the upcoming world premiere of:

The Mark of Cain
, music by composer Matthew Harris and libretto by Terry Quinn. The one-act opera, loosely based on the biblical story of Cain and Abel, is for six soloists, chorus and chamber orchestra. The premiere will take place November 8, 9 and 10, 2012. The company looks forward to presenting this work by the team of Harris and Quinn.

Meet Matthew Harris

Matthew Harris returns to Chelsea Opera where his cantata for chorus and orchestra, A Child’s Christmas in Wales, was presented in December 2011.

His three-act opera, Tess, was performed in part at New York City Opera’s VOX series and by Lake George Opera Festival, and his monodrama As You Choose was produced at the Southern Theater in St. Paul.

His orchestral works have been played by Minnesota, Houston and Florida Symphony Orchestras; chamber works by Lark Quartet, League of Composers/ISCM and Montage Music Society of Boston; and choral works by Phoenix Chorale, Santa Fe Desert Chorale and Western Wind at venues such as the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall.

G. Schirmer and C. F. Peters publish his scores, and Albany, Chandos, Cedille and MSR Classics represent him on disc. Commissions have come from American Composers Forum, Amuse, Aspen Music Festival, Modesto Symphony Orchestra, Verdehr Trio and Voce Vocal Ensemble.

He has been awarded fellowships by the Fromm Music Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, MacDowell, Meet The Composer, National Endowment for the Arts (twice), Tanglewood and Yaddo. ASCAP, BMI, Chautauqua Chamber Singers, Diva Complex, Georges Enesco Foundation, Musicians Accord, National Association of Composers and Society for New Music have awarded him prizes in composition.

Mr. Harris has taught at Fordham University and Kingsborough College (CUNY), and currently lives in New York City.

Meet Terry Quinn
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 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 Fagin). A dramatic song cycle, titled A Distant Love: Songs of John and Abigail Adams, for which he wrote the libretto (score by Gary Fagin), had a three-performance world premiere at the Brooklyn Historical Society in the fall of 2009 and will receive its Manhattan premiere at Chelsea Opera in June 2013. Mr. Quinn is collaborating with composer Stephen Paulus on a full-length opera titled The Birthmark which will have its world premiere with Chelsea Opera in November 2013. 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.


Cain’s sister, Zellah, has spent a lifetime tracking him from their home outside the gates of Eden to the wilds of the Land of Nod. She has vowed to avenge the slaying of her younger brother, Abel, and to learn where his unblessed bones were buried. Only when she at last hunts Cain to his desert kingdom do we see that Zellah’s mission is tainted by the memory of a jilting �?and by the festering remnants of lust.
Voice and Role Descriptions of the Characters

CAIN (Leader of Enoch, long-ago slayer of his brother Abel)
Importance: Leading Male Role
Voice Type: Baritone: Dramatic.
Range: Low A to High F# The part sits high in the range. Many top notes.
Description of the Character: He's brusque, anguished and conflicted. As the leader of the world's first city, he's seemingly all-powerful but has feet of clay, and his secret vulnerabilities ultimately undo him. High-handed in public, world-weary in private, he shifts effortlessly between supplication, flattery and defiance.
ZELLAH (Cain and Abel's Sister)
Importance: Leading Female Role
Voice Type: Mezzo: Dramatic.
Range:Low A to High G. (A short, a cappella cadenza goes down to low E, with alternate ossia if too low.) The part sits in the middle/upper-middle of the range. Top notes are not frequent.
Description of the Character: She's like a force of nature, leaving a path of destruction in her wake. Ravaged but headstrong, she smolders with both vengeance and desire
Importance: Secondary Male Role
Voice Type: Bass
Range:Low F to High D (one high-Eb 8th-note ff; it may be spoken instead.)
The part is evenly distributed throughout its range, low notes need to be big, sonorous and powerful.
Description of the Character: Obviously, a larger than life figure! He's wrathful and vengeful, but also caring and protecting to Cain and Zellah.
The Serpent Importance:
Secondary Female Role
Voice Type: Soprano, Lyric (light, silvery, agile)
Range:Low C to High Bb
The part often starts from the lower register and gradually works its way up. Top notes are infrequent, but are important climaxes.
Description of the Character: She's eternally young, erotic and seductive, and uses convincing arguments to dupe Cain into achieving her own ends.
Moradesh (a farmer)
Importance: Minor Role
Voice Type: Tenor: Lyric, Character
Range:Low C to High Ab
The part sits in the middle register. Character, comedic tenor.
Description of the Character: He appears at first a harmless simpleton, but turns out to be cunning and mischievous.

CALEB (a townsman, friend to Moradesh)
Importance: Minor Role
Voice Type: Baritone: Lyric, Character
Range:Low A# to High F# The part sits in the middle/upper-middle register. Less comedic character than Moradesh.
Description of the Character: He too is a rough peasant-type. He seems slightly less a fool than Moradesh and the straight man of this comedy team.
SATB with occasional splits.




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