Thompson Street Opera Company
I will fly like a bird
Music by John Plant
Libretto by J.A. Wainwright
Sept. 12, 13, 14
2936 N Southport Ave
The season opens with the US premiere of I will fly like a bird, a collaboration between Canadian-American composer John Plant and poet-librettist J.A. Wainwright, which tells the tragic true story of would-be immigrant Robert Dziekanski, who was tazed to death in an airport while attempting to reunite with his mother. Directed by Ross Matsuda and conducted by company music director Alexandra Enyart, this lyrical, deeply moving work features a double cast of both Chicago favorites and exciting newcomers.
In the role of Robert, TSOC stalwart Jonathan Wilson, whose performances have been praised as “effortless” and “pitch-perfect” by Chicago Theatre Review, alternates with Nathaniel Hill, fresh from two years in as a resident artist with Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera. In the role of Robert’s Mother, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Barrett makes her company debut and Marissa Simmons returns to the company again, after last appearing (also opposite Wilson) in their 2018 spring production of Marcus Maroney’s Dust of the Road.
The TSOC chamber orchestra (under the leadership of newly-appointed Concertmaster Robert Alvarado Switala) will present Penderecki’s Clarinet Quintet as an evocative instrumental prelude to this heart-rending opera. I will fly like a bird plays September 12-15 in Studio Three of the Athenaeum Theatre.
Faulty Systems: Hope & Home
Presented in collaboration
The Center for Intuitive
& Outsider Art
by Rebekah Driscoll
Intuit Center Gallery
756 N Milwaukee Ave
In December, the company leaps into its first collaboration with Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art for their annual mid-season multidisciplinary event. Faulty Systems: Hope & Home will bring together artists of many mediums with social activists to engage as a community with the issue of homelessness and housing insecurity.
As part of the event, TSOC will present the premiere of Rebekah Driscoll’s short opera Apart/ment, which tells four different stories of how individuals become homeless, and urges the audience to remember that we are all neighbors in the city we call home.
Led by company Artistic & Executive Director Claire DiVizio, sopranos Jessie Lyons, Tracey Furling, and Angela Born and mezzo-soprano Evita Trembley will bring these painfully relatable characters to life. TSOC is elated to have support from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs for this unique event.
Trifles & Sojourner Truth
by John Bilotta
adapted from the play
by Susan Glaspell
by Stanley Friedman
libretto adapted from writings by
March 26, 27, 28
2936 N Southport Ave
The season concludes with a double bill of two works celebrating great feminist thinkers, just in time for Women’s History Month. Led by the all-female team of director Christie Chiles Twillie and music director Alexandra Enyart, the double bill opens with Trifles by John Bilotta, based on the play of the same name by Susan Glaspell.
Considered one of the first pieces of American feminist theatre, it was also turned into a wildly successful episode of “Alfred Hitchock Presents” under the title “A Jury of Her Peers.” A man has been murdered in his bed, his body discovered by the farmer Lewis Hale, and the man’s wife is the prime suspect. Sheriff Peters and County Attorney Henderson make a visit to the house to search for evidence, while the Sheriff and Hale’s wives accompany them to collect personal items for the accused woman. While the men come up empty-handed, the women make a discovery that leads them to question their duty as women in a man’s world.
Making her company debut as Mrs. Peters is soprano Schyler Sheltrown, fresh from an appearance in the title role of The Ballad of Baby Doe with Toledo Opera. In the role of Lewis Hale is baritone Zachary Angus, following a much-lauded appearance in TSOC’s 2018 When Adonis Calls and a season as a Resident Artist with Indianapolis Opera. Tenor Dennis Kalup is County Attorney Henderson, baritone Matthew Brennan is Sheriff Peters, and mezzo-soprano Brittany Jeffries is Mrs. Hale.
Following an intermission, TSOC is honored to present the Chicago debut of Lexington-based dramatic soprano Shareese Johnson, in the title role of Sojourner Truth by composer Stanley Friedman. A native of Alabama, Shareese has recently appeared as Brigitta in Iolanta with Queen City Opera, Senta (cover) in Der Fliegende Holländer and Serena in Porgy and Bess with Princeton Festival Opera, and in the title role of Suor Angelica with Converse Opera Theatre. Chicago soprano Amanda Noelle Neal acts as understudy. With a libretto based on the writings of the iconic abolitionist and women’s rights activist, this captivating monodrama follows Truth later in her life as she reminisces how far she has come, and how far America still has to go.