ABOUT the OPERA
THE FAMILY ADVENTURES OF ROYCE VAVREK’S
NEIGHBORS ON THE HIGH PLAINS OF CANADA – Volume #1 and # 2
Volumes 1 & 2 come from a larger collection on which Josh Schmidt and Royce Vavrek are working. These first two volumes were a good vocal fit for the BW students, and presented a unique challenge and learning experience to explore these first two adventures that delve into an eclectic collections of memories and experiences.
2 tenors, flute, bassoon, viola, cello, toy piano
I. Big Sis'
II. Wind and Earth
IV. A Silver Lining in Every Cloud
V. Dancing Feet
Self-Accompanied Solo voice & Real and / or Virtual Children or Women's Choir
II. Four Walls or Less
III. Swallowing a Mouthfull of Words
IV Mounty's Grandma
VI. Shayna and I
COMPOSER & LIBRETTIST
Josh Schmidt is the award-winning composer of ADD1NG MACH1N3 (Lucille Lortel Award - Best Musical; Outer Critic’s Circle Award - Best Score & Best Off-Broadway Musical; Joseph Jefferson Award - Best Musical; as well as 4 Obie Awards, 9 Drama Desk nominations, and Drama League nomination for Best Musical), ADD1NG MACH1N3 was also heralded as one of the ten best events of 2008 in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Time Out NY and Chicago Tribune. Recent credits include the critically acclaimed MIDWESTERN GOTHIC (Signature DC), A MINISTER’S WIFE (Lincoln Center Theatre; Writer’s Theatre – Best Musical Jeff Award), WHIDA PERU (Premieres – Inner Voices 2010/59E59) and GIFT OF THE MAGI (American Players Theatre). Incidental scores include DINNER WITH FRIENDS (Roundabout), WHEN THE RAIN STOPS FALLING (Lincoln Center), 3 KINDS OF EXILE and DYING FOR IT (Atlantic Theater), MODEL APARTMENT (Primary Stages), FIFTY WORDS (MCC), WORKS AND PROCESS (Guggenheim Museum), and MUSIC FROM ALMOST YESTERDAY (Barrow Street). Josh is currently working on musical projects and commissions for the Metropolitan Opera, RKO, Groundswell Productions, and Playwrights Horizons.
Josh is also an accomplished sound composer/designer whose Broadway & Off-Broadway credits include THERESE RAQUIN (Roundabout/Studio 54), HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVES (Walter Kerr), BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS (Nederlander), WATER BY THE SPOONFUL (Second Stage), CRIME AND PUNISHMENT (59E59), and regionally for Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Goodman Theatre, Writers Theatre in Glencoe (Artistic Associate), South Coast Repertory, Stratford Festival, The Kennedy Center, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Cleveland Playhouse, Ford’s Theatre, Alley Theatre (Associate Artist), Milwaukee Rep, among others.
Josh is a 2012 Sundance Theatre Lab UCross artist, and a recipient of the American Musical Voices Project honoree grant and Graduate of the Decade Award (UW-Milwaukee). ADD1NG MACH1N3 and A MINISTER’S WIFE both have original cast recordings on PS Classics. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is a guest lecturer at Harvard, Suffolk, University of Mississippi-Oxford, Illinois-Urbana/Champaign, Wisconsin-Madison and currently an associate artist at UNLV/NCT.
Royce Vavrek is a Canada-born, Brooklyn-based librettist and lyricist who has been called “the indie Hofmannsthal” (The New Yorker) a “Metastasio of the downtown opera scene” (The Washington Post), “an exemplary creator of operatic prose” (The New York Times), and “one of the most celebrated and sought after librettists in the world” (CBC Radio). His opera “Angel’s Bone” with composer Du Yun was awarded the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Music.
With composer Missy Mazzoli he wrote “Song from the Uproar,” premiered by Beth Morrison Projects in 2012, and subsequently seen in multiple presentations around the country. Their second opera, an adaptation of Lars von Trier’s “Breaking the Waves,” premiered at Opera Philadelphia, co-commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects, and directed by James Darrah to critical acclaim in September of 2016. The work won the 2017 Music Critics Association of North America award for Best New Opera and was nominated for Best World Premiere at the 2017 International Opera Awards. A new production premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival in the summer of 2019, produced by Scottish Opera and Opera Ventures, helmed by Tony Award-winning director Tom Morris and earned star Sydney Mancasola a coveted Herald Angel Award for her performance. Their next opera, an adaptation of Karen Russell’s short story “Proving Up,” was commissioned and presented by Washington National Opera, Opera Omaha and The Miller Theatre in 2018, was a finalist for the MCANA Best New Opera Award of that year. They are currently developing a grand opera for Opera Philadelphia and the Norwegian National Opera based on an original story by two-time Governor General’s Award-winning playwright Jordan Tannahill, as well as an adaptation of George Saunders’ Booker Prize-winning novel “Lincoln in the Bardo” for The Metropolitan Opera.
His collaboration with composer David T. Little led Heidi Waleson of the Wall Street Journal to proclaim them “one of the most exciting composer-librettist teams working in opera today.” In April of 2016 they premiered their first grand opera, “JFK,” at Fort Worth Opera, a co-commission with American Lyric Theater and Opéra de Montréal that was called “ravishing” (Opera News), earning a ten-star review in Opera Now Magazine. This followed the success of their first opera, “Dog Days,” which received its world premiere in September of 2012 at Peak Performances @ Montclair, in a production co-produced by Beth Morrison Projects and directed by American maverick Robert Woodruff. The work was celebrated as the Classical Music Event of the year by Time Out New York and a standout opera of recent decades by The New York Times. They are currently developing an original work for the Metropolitan Opera through the Met/LCT commissioning program.
Royce has also worked extensively with composer Paola Prestini, first on the song cycle "Yoani," inspired by the blog posts of Yoani Sanchez, and then on "The Hubble Cantata," a virtual reality oratorio produced by VisionIntoArt/National Sawdust in association with Beth Morrison Projects. They recently presented the workshop premiere of “Silent Light,” an opera based on the Cannes Jury Prize-winning film by Carlos Reygadas at the Banff Centre for Creativity, a collaboration with the director Thaddeus Strassberger, and are currently working on a new opera inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea.” They are also developing "Film Stills," a project for mezzo-soprano Eve Gigliotti that dramatizes four of Cindy Sherman's iconic photographs through musical monologues composed by Paola, Missy Mazzoli, Nico Muhly and Ellen Reid, and directed by R.B. Schlather. Royce and Paola's collaboration can be further heard on the AIDS Quilt Songbook: Sing for Hope recording, where their song "Union," as sung by Isabel Leonard, is featured.
In 2014 Royce premiered “27,” his first collaboration with composer Ricky Ian Gordon, at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Created for renowned mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, the work brought to life Gertrude Stein’s famous salon at 27 rue de Fleurus in Paris. Mark Ray Rinaldi of the Denver Post wrote that the opera “tells a great American story, about Gertrude Stein, as well as opera in the 21st century.” The opera was subsequently presented by Pittsburgh Opera, MasterVoices at New York City Center, Michigan Opera Theater, Opéra de Montréal and Opera Las Vegas. In 2017 their adaptation of Gail Rock’s Christmas classic “The House Without a Christmas Tree” for Houston Grand Opera was premiered to critical acclaim.
Other recent and upcoming projects include “Strip Mall” with Matt Marks for the Los Angeles Philharmonic; “Epistle Mass” with Julian Wachner for Trinity Wall Street, “Midwestern Gothic” with Josh Schmidt for Signature Theatre, Virginia; “Naamah’s Ark” with Marisa Michelson for MasterVoices; “O Columbia” with Gregory Spears for HGOco; and “Knoxville: Summer of 2015” with Ellen Reid for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and National Sawdust; “Crypto” with Guillaume Coté and Mikael Karlsson; “The Wild Beast of the Bungalow” with Rachel Peters for Oberlin Conservatory; “Jacqueline” with Luna Pearl Woolf for Tapestry New Opera; “Adoration” (based on the film by Atom Egoyan) with Mary Kouyoumdjian for Beth Morrison Projects and “Agnes” with Daníel Bjarnason for the Icelandic Opera.
Royce is co-Artistic Director of The Coterie, an opera-theater company founded with Tony-nominee Lauren Worsham. He holds a BFA in Filmmaking and Creative Writing from Concordia University’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema in Montreal and an MFA from the Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program at New York University. He is an alum of American Lyric Theater’s Composer Librettist Development Program.