Seven Sisters

Framed by the ritual of a Taiwanese funeral, and threaded through with the myth of the Pleiades reimagined, Seven Sisters looks at the hard truths of a culture that demeans and disempowers women and asks: How does the next generation move beyond this legacy, bridging a cultural chasm that privileges silence? 

Justine F. Chen, Composer

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The “propulsive, emotionally resonant” (NY Times) music of native New Yorker composer JUSTINE F. CHEN has been commissioned and presented by New York City Opera, New York City Ballet, The Juilliard School, American Lyric Theater, NYFOS, Tapestry Opera, JACK Quartet, OPERA America, and Chicago Opera Theater.

Stephanie Fleischmann, Librettist

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Stephanie Fleischmann is a librettist and playwright whose texts serve as blueprints for intricate three-dimensional sonic and visual worlds. Her “lyrical monologues” (NY Times), “smart” opera libretti (Opera News), plays, and music-theater works have been performed internationally and across the United States.

Aya Ogawa, Director

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 Aya Ogawa is a Tokyo-born, Brooklyn-based playwright, director, performer and translator whose work reflects an international viewpoint and utilizes the stage as a space for exploring cultural identity, displacement and other facets of the immigrant experience.

Lidiya Yankovskaya, Conductor

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Russian-American conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya is a fiercely committed advocate for contemporary works on the leading edge of classical music. As Music Director of Chicago Opera Theater, Ms. Yankovskaya has led the Chicago premieres of Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick, Rachmaninov’s Aleko, Jody Talbot’s Everest, and Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta.

Cori Ellison, Dramaturg

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Cori Ellison, a leading creative figure in the opera world, has served as staff Dramaturg at Santa Fe Opera, the Glyndebourne Festival Opera and New York City Opera. Active in developing contemporary opera, she leads the Opera Lab at The Juilliard School, where she serves on the Vocal Arts faculty.

Seven Sisters • The Proposal

Curator Discussion

Curators, Alexa Anderson, Jonathan Khuner and Mary Chun

Artist Interviews: Seven Sisters

Libretto Reading Excerpt of 

Seven Sisters

InFocus Issue 2 

Seven Sisters

Get to know them: First Opera Stories

previous work samples

Composer justine F. chen introduces

the life and death(s) of alan turing

Librettist Stephanie fleischmann introduces

SOUND HOUSE AND IN A GROVE

Director Aya ogawa introduces Excerpts from

Oph3lia / Ludic proxy / The Nose Bleed

Excerpt of

the life and death(s) of alan turing

Excerpts from

SOUND HOUSE AND IN A GROVE

Excerpts from

Oph3lia /Ludic proxy / The Nose Bleed

JUSTINE F. CHEN Bio:

The “propulsive, emotionally resonant” (NY Times) music of native New Yorker composer JUSTINE F. CHEN has been commissioned and presented by New York City Opera, New York City Ballet, The Juilliard School, American Lyric Theater, NYFOS, Tapestry Opera, JACK Quartet, OPERA America, and Chicago Opera Theater. Her first opera, The Maiden Tower, was presented by Juilliard, NYCO’s VOX 2006 Showcase, and Chants Libres. When featured in VOX 2008, her second opera, Jeanne, was praised as “lyrical, atmospheric... striking… Throughout, Ms. Chen balances despair and humor.” (NYTimes) Recent projects include an opera on the life of computer-scientist Alan Turing, a work for three-time Grammy award winning choral phenomenon, The Crossing, and a holiday opera for American Lyric Theater and Saratoga Opera. Recent honors include grants from the Jerome Fund for New Music, Frances Goelet Charitable Lead Trust, and the 2020 Female Discovery Grant from OPERA America. She has been interviewed on WNYC’s Studio 360, WBAI, Indie Opera Podcast, and Cincinnati Song Initiative. 

She received her DMA in composition from Juilliard, where she also earned her Bachelors and Masters in violin and composition. Dedicated to education, Chen is trained in Suzuki and Orff Pedagogy, created the composition-based music curriculum at Pierrepont School (CT), and teaches Theory and Composition at the Third Street Settlement (NY).

The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing: Music by Justine F. Chen, Libretto by David Simpatico.

Commissioned by American Lyric Theater, Lawrence Edelson, Producing Artistic Director 

Featuring: Jonathan Michie, Baritone (ALAN TURING); Andrew Bidlack, Tenor (CHRISTOPHER MORCOM); 

Members of MasterVoices; Lidiya Yankovskaya,Conductor & Chorus Master; Djordje Nesic, Pianist

The development of SEVEN SISTERS received funding from OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Female Composers Program, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.

STEPHANIE FLEISCHMANn Bio:

Stephanie Fleischmann is a librettist and playwright whose texts serve as blueprints for intricate three-dimensional sonic and visual worlds. Her “lyrical monologues” (NY Times), “smart” opera libretti (Opera News), plays, and music-theater works have been performed internationally and across the United States. Upcoming: Poppaea (Michael Hersch; Wien Moderne); In a Grove (Christopher Cerrone; Pittsburgh Opera & TBA); Dido (Melinda Wagner; for Dawn Upshaw/Brentano Quartet); The Pigeon Keeper (David Hanlon; Santa Fe Opera); A Space of Sky (Jeremy Howard Beck; Houston Grand Opera); The Visitation (HERE). Premiered: The Long Walk (Opera Saratoga, Utah Opera); After the Storm (HGOco).

 

Current collaborations: Anna Clyne (Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Choir), Julia Adolphe (National Sawdust), Peter Knell (Seattle Opera/Jacaranda), Matt Recio (Chicago Opera Theater). Selected plays/music-theater: Sound House (the Flea), Niagara (Daniel Fish), Red Fly/Blue Bottle (Christina Campanella, Mallory Catlett; HERE, EMPAC, Noorderzon), The Secret Lives of Coats (Red Eye), The Sweetest Life (New Victory LabWorks). Also: Roundhouse Studio (London), Exit Festival (France), MASS MoCA, Birmingham Rep (UK), Synchronicity, Roadworks, New Georges, Here, Soho Rep, Mabou Mines/SUITE. Grants/Fellowships: Toulmin Foundation, Venturous Theater Fund, Howard Foundation, 3 NYSCA Individual Artist Commissions, NEA Opera/Music-Theater, 3 NYFA Fellowships, Tennessee Williams Fellowship, Frederick Loewe and Whitfield Cook Awards, MapFund, Opera America repertoire development grant, NY State Music Fund, Greenwall Foundation, Mid-Atlantic Fund. Residencies: New Dramatists; New Georges Audrey; American Lyric Theater.

Sound House: by Stephanie Fleischmann

Directed by Debbie Saivetz with Vicky Finney, Jim Himelsbach, Susanna Stahlmann

Movement: Brendan Spieth, Sound: Brandon Wolcott/Tyler Kieffer

Set: Marsha Ginsberg, Lights: Kate McGee, Costumes: Olivera Gajic

 

In a Grove: music by Christopher Cerrone, libretto by Stephanie Fleischmann
Based on the short story by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa

Old Woman: Joowon Chae; Policeman; Quinn Bernegger

Clara Kim, violin; Joann Whang, cello; Jesse Han, flute; Doug Perry, percussion

Premiering at Pittsburgh Opera, February 2022; commissioning partner TBA

Aya Ogawa Bio:

Director Aya Ogawa is a Tokyo-born, Brooklyn-based playwright, director, performer and translator whose work reflects an international viewpoint and utilizes the stage as a space for exploring cultural identity, displacement and other facets of the immigrant experience. Cumulatively, all aspects of her artistic practice synthesize her work as an artistic and cultural ambassador, building bridges across cultures to create meaningful exchange amongst artists, theaters and audiences both in the U.S. and in Asia. She has written and directed many plays including A Girl of 16, oph3lia (HERE) and Ludic Proxy (The Play Company).

 

Most recently she wrote, directed and performed in The Nosebleed at the Incoming! Series at the Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival. As a director she most recently directed Haruna Lee’s Suicide Forest for The Bushwick Starr and Ma-Yi Theater Company. She has translated numerous Japanese plays into English including work by Satoko Ichihara, Yudai Kamisato and over a dozen plays by Toshiki Okada; many of these translations have been published and produced in the U.S. and U.K. She is currently a resident playwright at New Dramatists and a Usual Suspect at NYTW, and recent member of the Devised Theater Working Group at the Public Theater and Artist-in-Residence at BAX.

Lidiya Yankovskaya Bio:

Russian-American conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya is a fiercely committed advocate for Russian masterpieces, operatic rarities, and contemporary works on the leading edge of classical music. As Music Director of Chicago Opera Theater, Ms. Yankovskaya has led the Chicago premieres of Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick, Rachmaninov’s Aleko, Joby Talobot’s Everest, and Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta. Elsewhere: Ricky Ian Gordon’s Ellen West (Prototype Festival), Il barbiere di Siviglia (Wolf Trap), Pia de’ Tolomei (Spoleto Festival USA), and Taking Up Serpents (world premiere, Washington National Opera). Ms. Yankovskaya is Founder and Artistic Director of the Refugee Orchestra Project (recent performances: United Nations; LSO St Luke’s, London), and former Artistic Director of the Boston New Music Festival and Juventas New Music Ensemble, where she led operatic experiments with puppetry, circus acts, and robotic instruments, as well as premieres by more than two dozen composers.

 

An alumna of the Dallas Opera’s Hart Institute for Women Conductors and Marin Alsop’s Taki Concordia Fellowship, Ms. Yankovskaya has also served as assistant conductor to Lorin Maazel, assisted Vladimir Jurowski via a London Philharmonic fellowship, and was featured in the Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview. Ms. Yankovskaya served as U.S. Representative to the 2018 World Opera Forum in Madrid, and received a 2018 Solti Foundation Career Assistance Award. Upcoming debuts: Seattle Opera, Dallas Opera, Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, Opera Vlaanderen in Belgium, Opera Seville, and the Glimmerglass Festival.

Cori ellison Bio:

Cori Ellison, a leading creative figure in the opera world, has served as staff Dramaturg at Santa Fe Opera, the Glyndebourne Festival Opera and New York City Opera. Active in developing contemporary opera, she leads the Opera Lab at The Juilliard School, where she serves on the Vocal Arts faculty. She is also a founding faculty member of American Lyric Theater’s Composer Librettist Development Program and has participated in the Yale Institute for Music Theatre. At New York City Opera she was a curator of the annual VOX American Opera Showcase and co-founded and led City Opera’s “Words First” program for opera librettists. She has been a sought-after developmental dramaturg to numerous composers, librettists, and commissioners, including Glyndebourne, Canadian Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Arizona Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, and Beth Morrison Projects, and has served as production dramaturg for projects including L'incoronazione di Poppea (Cincinnati Opera); Orphic Moments (Salzburg Landestheater, National Sawdust, Master Voices); Aci, Galatea, e Polifemo (National Sawdust); Washington National Opera’s Ring cycle, Opera Boston’s The Nose, and Offenbach!!! at Bard Summerscape. A faculty member at the Ravinia Steans Music Institute Program for Singers, she has taught and lectured around the world. She creates supertitles, and helped launch Met Titles. Her English singing translations include Hansel and Gretel (NYCO), La vestale (English National Opera) and Shostakovich’s Cherry Tree Towers (Bard Summerscape).