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American Chamber Opera in Melissa Shiflett's 'My Undying Love: An Amusement' A comic fantasy for adults and children

June 13, 2019 | By Audrey Ross

Press Contact:
Audrey Ross

in Melissa Shiflett's    
'MY UNDYING LOVE:  AN AMUSEMENT' - A comic fantasy for adults and children
The Girl (Lianne Gennaco) and The Bear (Seth Gilman) photo by Yuri Kalina
Friday-Sunday, June 21-23  (Friday & Saturday at 8 PM; Sunday at 2 PM)
University Settlement, 184 Eldridge Street
Tickets: $25; $18 for students & seniors
Reservations:  or  347.448.6039
Running Time: one hour
Rachel Arky - Milkmaid
Sean Fallen - Goatherd
Lianne Gennaco -  Girl
Seth Gilman - Bear
Michelle Seipel - Witch/Mother
Kannan Vasudevan - Robin
Elizabeth Rodgers, piano
Gary Dranch, clarinet
Courtney Kaita, violincello
Music and lyrics: Melissa Shiflett
Stage Direction: Andrew Joffe
Musical Direction: Elizabeth Rodgers, Melissa Shiflett
Choreographer: Beth Leonard
Costume Design: Matthew Pedersen
Lighting Design: Temishia Johnson
Set Design: Justin Tolbert
Composer/librettist Melissa Shiflett's My Undying Love: An Amusement, a one-hour opera fantasy for audiences of all ages, will receive its world premiere, June 21-23 at University Settlement, 184 Eldridge.  Shiflett has assembled a cast of singers whose credits include New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and Los Angeles Opera  for this comic entertainment  - amusing, unsentimental, joyous and jazzy.  The production has costumes by Matthew Pedersen, whose credits include the Metropolitan Opera and Steppenwolf Theatre, and set design by Justin Tolbert, who has designed for the Arthur Miller Society.
The tone of the opera is both silly and touching, but never sentimental.
The characters are exaggerated, yet plain-spoken.
The music is lyric and syncopated; an old-time jazz flavor surfaces often.
My Undying Love: An Amusement is just that - an amusement, with plenty of action.  Tempers flair between a mother and daughter, who then begins her elaborate fantasy play with her mother cast as The Witch.   After causing a lot of trouble, all the characters gang up on the Witch and force an (insincere) apology out of her for her antics. All kinds of undying love between the characters take place throughout the story: friendship, mother/daughter, and romantic love.  The opera closes as the mother and girl strike a truce, which feels both poignant and joyful.
Composer MELISSA SHIFLETT, who specializes in opera and songwriting, began her career as resident composer to the experimental Dream Theatre at the Body Politic Theatre in Chicago.  Shiflett's opera Dora, with libretto by Nancy Fales Garrett, was premiered at LaMaMa ETC and given its second full production in 2009 by the Peabody Chamber Opera at Johnson Hopkins University in Baltimore.  Excerpts from the opera were presented on New York City Opera's first annual Vox festival showcase.  Other operas include The Wild Goose Circus, a two-act opera with libretto by Russell Davis, performed at The Pennsylvania Opera Theatre, and Without Colors, based on a story by Italo Calvino, libretto by Mac Wellman, produced by the Minnesota Opera New Music Theatre Ensemble.
Ms. Shiflett's Songs on Sara Teasdale Poems and Water Dreams were premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2002 by soprano Shauna Holiman and can be heard on Albany Records.  Her Lullaby Duets was performed at the DIA Center in NY, The William Ferris Chorale in Chicago, and on a concert of her songs at the 92nd Street Y on their Meet the Virtuoso series.  Songs she composed for theater have been performed nationally and internationally in the plays Dracula by Mac Wellman and Tales of the Los Formicans by Constance Congdon.  The most recent works, Fantasy Songs and The Rose Saga I and II, sung by Ms. Shiflett, have been performed at The Construction Company and at the 92nd St. Y
Ms. Shiflett has received numerous grants, including form the Illinois Arts Council, Meet The Composer, and a Diverse Forms Artist Grant (funded by the NEA, Rockefeller Foundation and Jerome Foundation) to complete the orchestration of her opera Dora.  Melissa holds degrees in Music Composition and Piano from the American Conservatory of Music, and is currently music instructor at the 92nd St. Y.




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