• Fort Worth Opera

FWO Announces World Premiere Film of Virtual Comic Opera, 'Bernadette's Cozy Book Nook'

Updated: Nov 20

NEWS RELEASE

NOVEMBER 18, 2020


CONTACT:

Ryan Scott Lathan, Manager of Marketing and Communications

817-288-1218; RLathan@fwopera.org


Fort Worth Opera Proudly Announces World Premiere Film of

Virtual Comic Opera Bernadette’s Cozy Book Nook, Featuring Four Legends of Opera, Pianist Aldo López-Gavilán, and the Harlem Quartet, with a Score by FWO Artistic Director and Composer Joe Illick, and Libretto by Pulitzer Prize Winner Mark Campbell


Director and Editor Cara Consilvio captures a hilarious slice of quarantine life in this bitingly witty new work



FORT WORTH, TX — Fort Worth Opera (FWO) is thrilled to announce the world premiere film of composer Joe Illick and librettist Mark Campbell’s Bernadette’s Cozy Book Nook. Directed and edited by Cara Consilvio, this searingly clever virtual comedy features opera legends Brenda Harris, Donnie Ray Albert, Joyce Castle, William Burden, FWO Lesley Resident Artist Gabrielle Gilliam, pianist Aldo López-Gavilán, and the world-renowned Harlem Quartet under the baton of music director and sound editor Andrew Whitfield. Part of the company’s new digital initiative FWO Green Room and the first of many exciting offerings for the spring of 2021, Bernadette’s Cozy Book Nook is Fort Worth Opera’s ninth world premiere and the third creative collaboration between Illick and Campbell, following 2019’s Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World, and this season’s delightful Texas-themed children’s opera, Stone Soup.


On April 27, 2020, The Cozy Book Nook, a book club with four retirees as members that usually convenes monthly in person, now meets online for the first time because of the pandemic. Bernadette, the club's president, tightens her tyrannical grip as the members are joined on Zoom by her young niece Eleanor, a recent graduate of Yale, to discuss the book of the month: Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. In forty mordantly funny minutes of life in the time of COVID-19, technology falters, political lines are sharply drawn, and Bernadette's book club becomes anything but cozy.


Bernadette's Cozy Book Nook, one of the first operas actually set on a Zoom call, takes place many decades ago—in late April 2020,” says librettist Mark Campbell. “Any resemblance between this quaint, small city book club and a nation beset by totalitarianism, inequality and deep political divisiveness is purely coincidental."


“I feel so fortunate to have five sensational singing actors, an incredible musical ensemble, the best librettist any composer could ever wish for to create one of the first Zoom operas,” says FWO Artistic Director Joe Illick. “Like everyone, I wish there had never been a pandemic that forced us to create opera this way, but we are doing our best to stay in touch with our friends and with the world during this scary time. I hope that this piece helps bring some solace and reminds people that we are still all connected to one another, perhaps more than ever.”


Bernadette’s Cozy Book Nook (World Premiere)

Music by Joe Illick

Libretto by Mark Campbell

In English with supertitles in English

Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 7:30 p.m. (Opening Night)

Available to view online as part of the FWO Green Room, January 14-24, 2021

CAST (in order of appearance):

Brenda Harris (Bernadette)

Donnie Ray Albert* (Larry)

William Burden* (Emmett)

Gabrielle Gilliam* (Eleanor)

Joyce Castle (Marcia)


Photo of the Harlem Quartet by Juan-Miguel Hernandez

MUSICAL ENSEMBLE:

Aldo López-Gavilán* (Piano)

Harlem String Quartet:

Ilmar Gavilán* (Violin)

Melissa White* (Violin)

Jaime Amador* (Violin)

Felix Umansky* (Cellist)

ARTISTIC TEAM:

Cara Consilvio (Director, Editor)

Andrew Whitfield* (Music Director, Sound Editing)

Danielle Ranno* (Stage Manager)

*denotes Fort Worth Opera debut season

TICKETS:

Tickets for the January 14-24 digital streaming of Bernadette’s Cozy Book Nook can be purchased online beginning December 1, 2020, at www.fwopera.org/bookclub or by calling the Fort Worth Opera box office at 817.731.0726 or toll-free at 1.877.396.7372.

Join us for Bernadette’s VIP Experience

Pre-show virtual reception and toast at 6:45 p.m.

FWO’s post-show discussion with the entire creative team and cast at 8:15 p.m.

To attend the VIP reception and post-show discussion, please contact Paulina Magdaleno, Audience Development and Special Events Manager, at 817.821.6260 or email paulina@fwopera.org.


CREATIVE TEAM

JOE ILLICK, Composer

Joe Illick is the Artistic Director of Fort Worth Opera, having served for fifteen seasons as Music Director and Principal Conductor. From 2007 to 2017 he served as Executive and Artistic Director of Performance Santa Fe. He has also served as the Artistic Director of the Lake George Opera Festival and Shreveport Opera, Interim Artistic Director of Greater Miami Opera (now Florida Grand Opera), and Music Director of the Pittsburgh Opera Theater. Illick’s work Ulysses was premiered in Italy, his monodrama Emma was performed on public television, and excerpts from his one-act comedy Gunpoint have been performed with orchestra in New Mexico, New York, and Washington. Other recent operas include Feel the Tango (libretto by Susan Westfall), UnShakeable (libretto by Andrea Fellows Walters), Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World (libretto by Mark Campbell) and Stone Soup (libretto by Mark Campbell).


MARK CAMPBELL, Librettist

The work of Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award-winning librettist/lyricist Mark Campbell is at the forefront of the contemporary opera scene in this country. Mark has written 38 opera librettos, lyrics for 7 musicals and text for 5 song cycles and 2 oratorios. His best known works are Silent Night, Sanctuary Road, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, As One, Elizabeth Cree, Stonewall, Later the Same Evening, The Manchurian Candidate, Volpone, Bastianello/Lucrezia, and Songs from an Unmade Bed. Mark also mentors future generations of opera composers and librettists through such organizations as the American Opera Project, American Lyric Theater and the American Opera Initiative and recently created the first prize in the history of opera designated specifically for opera librettists, called the Campbell Opera Librettist Prize. www.markcampbellwords.com


CARA CONSILVIO, Director and Editor

Cara Consilvio is a director and producer of opera, film and theater. In 2020, Cara directed Scalia/Ginsburg for Opera Carolina and Opera Grand Rapids, and the world premiere of The Leader & Kassandra for Opera in the Heights. She is currently in post-production on her feature film directing debut, a documentary feature film called For the Love of Friends which will premiere on the film festival circuit in 2021. In May of 2020, Cara edited the short film Light Shall Lift Us written by Paul Moravec and Mark Campbell and featuring 107 opera singers. Other opera directing highlights from her career include, Hydrogen Jukebox at Chautauqua Opera, An American Dream at Anchorage Opera, The Elixir of Lovefor Piedmont Opera, The Threepenny Opera for Syracuse Opera, Suor Angelica and Glory Denied at Tri-Cities Opera. Cara is also the co-founder of Hup! Productions and has produced and directed many award-winning films.


DANIELLE RANNO, Stage Manager

Danielle has worked as a freelance stage manager in opera, theatre, dance and special events for the last decade. Recent credits include Zoom Speed Dating Tonight! (NYU & World Premiere with Brevard Music Center), Miranda: A Steampunk VR Experience (World Premiere with Tri-Cities Opera & Opera Omaha), Kanye West’s Mary at Lincoln Center. Additional companies include: Death of Classical, Manhattan School of Music, The Maltz Jupiter Theatre, Gulfshore Playhouse, TheatreZone, The Mother Line Story Project, Opera Columbus, On Site Opera, International Summer Opera Festival of Morelia, Lakes Area Music Festival, Brevard Music Center, Opera Grand Rapids, The Castleton Festival, Opera Naples, Gulfshore Opera, and The Joyce Theater. Danielle received her MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. She is a proud member of The Actors Equity Association and American Guild of Musical Artists.


ANDREW WHITFIELD, Music Director and Sound Editing

Andrew Whitfield is currently Associate Conductor and Chorus Master at Minnesota Opera, a post he has held since 2018. In 2019 he made his conducting debut there in performances of La Traviata and returned to the podium the following year to conduct Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Prior to that, Whitfield was Resident Conductor and Chorus Master at Opera San José. A champion of new works, Whitfield served as prompter for the World Premiere of Bright Sheng's Dream of the Red Chamber at San Francisco Opera, and has subsequently collaborated with composers such as Kevin Puts, Paola Prestini, Alma Deutscher and Joel Puckett. Whitfield has also worked at the San Francisco Symphony and the Minnesota Orchestra, assisting and covering conductors like Semyon Bychkov, Susanna Mälkki, Edward Gardner, Jane Glover, and Karina Canellakis.


DANIELLE RANNO, Stage Manager

Danielle has worked as a freelance stage manager in opera, theatre, dance and special events for the last decade. Recent credits include Zoom Speed Dating Tonight! (NYU & World Premiere with Brevard Music Center), Miranda: A Steampunk VR Experience (World Premiere with Tri-Cities Opera & Opera Omaha), Kanye West’s Mary at Lincoln Center. Additional companies include: Death of Classical, Manhattan School of Music, The Maltz Jupiter Theatre, Gulfshore Playhouse, TheatreZone, The Mother Line Story Project, Opera Columbus, On Site Opera, International Summer Opera Festival of Morelia, Lakes Area Music Festival, Brevard Music Center, Opera Grand Rapids, The Castleton Festival, Opera Naples, Gulfshore Opera, and The Joyce Theater. Danielle received her MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. She is a proud member of The Actors Equity Association and American Guild of Musical Artists.

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