First Take was launched on June 1, 2013 at the Hammer Museum’s Billy Wilder Theater.
Among the six new works showcased was an opera by the legendary Pauline Oliveros, set to a text by the poet Ione, and a new theatrical song-cycle by rising star composer Mohammed Fairouz set to Wayne Koestenbaum’s riff on Pierrot Lunaire. Performances featured the wild Up modern music collective, led by Marc Lowenstein and Christopher Rountree, and were preceded by short video documentaries.
First Take offered six creative teams crucial assistance towards the future realization of their works. The structure was modeled on Artistic Director Yuval Sharon’s work on New York City Opera’s Vox Showcase, which he led as Project Director between 2005-2009. Under his leadership, Vox became the most important crucible for new opera in the country, presenting excerpts of new operas by composers such as John Zorn, Charles Wuorinen, William Kraft, Stephen Schwartz, and Anne LeBaron. Of the 40 works Sharon workshopped at Vox, 25 have gone on to future life in companies around the world, including the first two operas produced by The Industry: LeBaron’s Crescent City and Christopher Cerrone’s Invisible Cities.
About First Take
First Take is a biennial West Coast workshop of new American operas designed to give audiences a taste of the wide range of ideas in opera today. The inaugural run of First Take took place at the Hammer Museum in 2013 and featured works by Pauline Oliveros, Mohammed Fairouz, David Brynjar Franzson, Ellen Reid, Aaron Siegel, and Alexander Vassos. Our next iteration took place at the Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts in 2015 and featured the legendary Joan La Barbara to perform works by Jason Thorpe Buchanan, Nomi Epstein, Jenny Olivia Johnson, Anne LeBaron, Andrew McIntosh and Paul Pinto.
First Take is curated by The Industry’s Artistic Director, Yuval Sharon, in collaboration with wild Up’s Artistic Director Christopher Rountree, The Industry’s Music Director Marc Lowenstein, and The Industry’s Executive Director Elizabeth Cline. First Take is modeled on the format Sharon created during his four years as Project Director of New York City Opera’s influential VOX program between 2005-09. Under his leadership, VOX became the most important crucible for new opera in the country: of the 40 works Sharon workshopped at VOX, 25 have gone on to future life in companies around the world, including the first two operas produced by The Industry: Anne LeBaron’s Crescent City and Christopher Cerrone’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated Invisible Cities.
Music and text by Aaron Siegel
The House is Open
Music and text by Alexander Vassos
Created by David Brynjar Franzon, Davyde Wachell, Halldor Ulfarsson, and Angelea Rawlings
Music by Ellen Reid
Libretto by Amanda Jane Shank
Music by Mohammed Fairouz
Libretto by Wayne Koestenbaum
The Nubian Word for Flowers
Music by Pauline Oliveros
Libretto by Ione