The Hartt School presents the New England premiere of Thomas Pasatieri’s The Hotel Casablanca Thursday, February 2, through Saturday, February 4, at 7:30 PM, and Sunday, February 5, at 3:00 PM, in Millard Auditorium, University of Hartford, 200 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford. Admission is $20, with discounts for seniors, students, and groups. Admission is free for University of Hartford students, faculty, and staff with current University ID. For tickets and information, contact the University of Hartford Box Office at 860.768.4228 or 1.800.274.8587, or visit www.hartford.edu/hartt.
The Hotel Casablanca is a comic tale of love, guns, and mistaken identity deep in the heart of 1940s Texas. One critic recently wrote that The Hotel Casablanca has just enough opera majesty to satiate grand opera adherents and enough silliness to keep most audiences entertained. The New England premiere will be conducted by Doris Lang Kosloff and directed by Ron Luchsinger.
Known as one of America’s most respected and performed vocal and opera composers as well as one of Hollywood’s most successful film orchestrators, Thomas Pasatieri will be in residence at The Hartt School throughout the week of the production, when he will hold master classes and coach students in preparation for the performances.
In addition, Mr. Pasatieri will discuss his life, career, and work during an interview and Q&A session on Thursday, February 2, at 12:00 PM, in Millard Auditorium. Free and open to the public, this discussion will take place on The Hotel Casablanca set and be lead by Hartt faculty member Doris Lang Kosloff, the production’s conductor.
Undergraduate vocal students headlining alternating casts are: Matthew Cramer of Nyack, NY, and Sterling Liska as Burton; Daniel Fortine of Elkins Park, PA, and George Mason of Farmington, CT, as Charles; Sydney Anderson of Gasport, NY, and Maria Cook of Scarborough, ME, as Tallulah; Erica Jeski of West Hartford, CT, and Sara Lobdell of Marlboro NY, as Lucy; Gregory Flower of Keene, NH, and Miguel Vasquez of Waterbury, CT, as Tom; Joseph Baker of Greenbelt, MD, and Michael Spaziani of Nashua, NH, as Raul; Marlon McWilliams of Capitol Heights, MD, and Dean Murphy of Maynard, MA, as Tobias; Emily Dalessio of Ridgefield, CT, and Dana Kephart of Flemington, NJ, as Bluebell Pooder; Angela Joy Lamb of Ledyard Center, CT, and Erica Maas of Manchester, CT, as Veronique.
About Thomas Pasatieri:
Composer Thomas Pasatieri was born October 20, 1945 in New York. By the age of ten Pasatieri had established himself as an accomplished performing pianist, and at fifteen he began his work as a composer. As a teenager, he studied with the renowned French teacher Nadia Boulanger. He entered The Juilliard School at age sixteen and went on to become the school's first recipient of a doctoral degree.
Mr. Pasatieri composed and wrote the libretto for his first opera, The Trysting Place, while an undergraduate at Juilliard. His first staged opera was The Women, a one-act work based on an original story. It premiered at the 1965 Aspen Festival and won the composition contest for that year. Among his 19 operas are La Divina (1966), Padrevia (1967), Black Widow (1972), The Trial of Mary Lincoln (1972), Signor Deluso (1974), Washington Square (1976), Before Breakfast (1980), Three Sisters (1986), and his best known work, The Seagull (1972), which received its world premiere recording in 2003 (Albany Records).
In 2007, Mr. Pasatieri made his highly anticipated return to opera with the premieres of two new works. Frau Margot, an opera in three acts, was commissioned by the Fort Worth Opera and premiered in June, with Joseph Illick conducting and librettist Frank Corsaro directing. August 2007 saw the premiere of Mr. Pasatieri’s new two-act comic opera, The Hotel Casablanca, with a libretto by the composer. The Hotel Casablanca was premiered by the San Francisco Opera Center Merola Singers, also under the baton of Joseph Illick, with direction by Richard Kagey. Both operas were well received by audience members and critics alike. In the words of Georgia Rowe (Contra Costa Times), "The Hotel Casablanca is one of those rarer-than-hen’s-teeth works: contemporary, well-crafted, richly musical and riotously funny…" And Frau Margot, replete with "a score of a voluptuous splendor that suggests Klimt’s gilded paintings set to music… has all the markings of a masterpiece" (Wes Blomster, operatoday.com).
In addition to his sizeable opera catalogue, Mr. Pasatieri has composed hundreds of songs, which have been performed and recorded by such artists as Janet Baker, Jane Eaglen, Sheri Greenawald, Thomas Hampson, Evelyn Lear, Catherine Malfitano, Ashley Putnam, Frederica von Stade, Thomas Stewart, and Shirley Verrett. These works include Heloïse and Abelard (1971), Rites of Passage (1974), Three Poems of James Agee (1974), Canciones del barrio (1983), Three Sonnets from the Portuguese (1984), Sieben Lehmannlieder (Seven Lehmann Songs to texts by Lotte Lehmann) (1988), Three Poems of Oscar Wilde (1998), and the orchestral song cycle, with chorus, Letter to Warsaw (2003).
A prolific composer for chorus, Mr. Pasatieri's works for this genre include Permit Me Voyage (1974), The Harvest Frost (1993), Bang the Drum Loudly (1994), and Mornings Innocent (1995), which was premiered and recorded by the Los Angeles Gay Men's Chorus. Among his instrumental works are: Invocation, commissioned and premiered by Leonard Slatkin and the New York Youth Symphony (1968); Theatrepieces, for Clarinet, Violin and Piano (1987); Concerto for Piano and Strings (1994); Sonata for Viola and Piano (1995); Quartet for Flute and Strings (1995); Sonata for Flute and Piano (1997); Windsong, premiered and recorded by Trio Ariana (2001); and three piano sonatas.
Recent works include Lady Macbeth and The Daughter of Capulet, two concert monodramas taken from the Shakespeare plays, and two instrumental works: Rhapsody for Double bass and Piano and Concerto for Harpsichord.
Mr. Pasatieri has taught composition at Juilliard, the Manhattan School of Music, and Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. From 1980 through 1984, he held the post of Artistic Director at Atlanta Opera. In 1984, he moved to Los Angeles, where he formed his film music production company, Topaz Productions. His film orchestrations can be heard in Road to Perdition, American Beauty, The Little Mermaid, The Shawshank Redemption, Fried Green Tomatoes, Legends of the Fall, Scent of a Woman, and Angels in America, among many others.
Photo 1: Angela Joy Lamb by Roger Castonguay
Photo 2: Thomas Pasatieri