ZEALnyc, February 17, 2017
Carlisle Floyd may have turned 90 this past June, but he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down his artistic output. His latest opera, The Prince of Players is being mounted by The Little Opera Theatre of New York (LOTNY) on February 23-26, 2017 at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College on the Upper East Side and ZEALnyc will be there to cover it.
The opera was originally commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera and received its world premiere in March 2016 at the HGO Studio. Prince of Players is set in 17th Century Restoration England during the reign of King Charles II, and follows the story of Edward Kynaston, a Shakespearean actor famous for his performances of the female roles in the Bard’s plays. When the King grants permission for women to appear onstage, and forbids male actors from continuing to appear in female roles, Kynaston must relearn his entire craft or face the end of his career. The opera has been adapted from Jeffrey Hatcher’s play Compleat Female Stage Beauty and the subsequent 2004 film Stage Beauty that starred Billy Crudup as Kynaston and Claire Danes as his new onstage rival. Since the premiere, Mr. Floyd has revised sections of the opera, and this new “revised” version will be heard for the first time in this production.
At its premiere in Houston, the opera received praise from the Houston Chronicle as being “beautifully realized with an electrifying score,” and The Classical Review celebrated its “fiery, heaving music.” Opera News praised the work’s “rich, full-ensemble sweeps of emotional color” and Floyd’s adaptation that “evoked the sinister harshness of Restoration-era London [through the score’s] harmonic and rhythmic distortions.”
LOTNY has already shown their commitment to presenting works by Mr. Floyd from a recent tribute entitled “Floydiana” which included selections from his various operas presented last June, as well as having produced a double-bill of two of his one-act operas, Slow Dusk and Markeim, in 2014.
And if the New York premiere of his latest opera wasn’t enough — The Paley Center for Media will be presenting a rare screening of the 1981 televised broadcast of Floyd’s opera Willie Stark this same weekend. The historically-based opera, also originally produced by the Houston Grand Opera, stars operatic baritone Timothy Nolen in the title role, and was directed by Broadway’s Harold Prince and conducted by John DeMain. Based on the 1946 Pulitzer Prize–winning novel All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren, set in the South during the Depression, it portrays the final days in the life of Governor Willie Stark (Nolen), a charismatic, corrupt politician who is in danger of being impeached. The screening includes filmed interviews with Messrs. Floyd and Prince. Mr. Floyd will be attending the screening which takes place on Saturday, February 25 at 1:00pm. For more information click here.
For more information on LOTNY’s production of Prince of Players click here.
ZEALnyc will be sitting down and talking with Mr. Floyd when he is in New York attending both his opera and the screening, so be on the lookout for our interview which will be published shortly thereafter.
Cover: Carlisle Floyd; courtesy of the artist.