Bard News & Events

Press Release


Mark Primoff

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—The Conductors Institute at Bard presents the world premiere of The Song of Eddie, a new opera with music by Harold Farberman and libretto by Andrew Joffe, at The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. in LUMA Theater on Friday, July 2 (premiere); Saturday, July 3; Wednesday, July 7; Friday, July 9; and Saturday, July 10. Admission is $35; discounts are available for senior citizens, children, and students.

In this wholly original opera, Farberman and Joffe explore the "human dynamics of power and our need to connect with something greater than ourselves—a need so strong that it can blind us even to madness and evil." The Song of Eddie, an opera in two acts, tells the story of a group of disparate people whose fates become entwined with a charismatic messiah figure, Eddie, who promises to bear all burdens and to fulfill all desires. Eddie predicts that a great storm will engulf and destroy the world, and gives his followers garments that he says will protect them from the ensuing slaughter. Jenny, one of Eddie’s followers, is torn between her belief in Eddie and her love for Josh, a nonbeliever who sees Eddie for the charlatan that he is. An inevitable battle erupts between Josh, the voice of reason, and Eddie, whose ability to weave truth, fear, and desire into a powerful tool of seduction bears an unsettling resemblance to the cult leaders and demagogues who have become all too familiar in the contemporary world.

Describing the origin of this new work, Farberman recalled a long and futile search for a stage-worthy libretto before a chance meeting with librettist and Bard alumnus Andrew Joffe at the Hudson Opera House. "In discussing the basis for the possibility of a new opera, I mentioned my fascination with cults. Andrew enthusiastically embraced the idea and a week later came to my Germantown home and read from his first draft. We both felt we had an excellent starting point for a new work. From that beginning it took the better part of a year to complete The Song of Eddie."

"From my point of view, " Farberman says, "the work explores the vulnerability of each of the characters and how their search for relief and acceptance leads them to Eddie’s cult. In their various, often fragile states of mind they are willing to accept and believe, without question, promises made by Eddie that defy logic." Pointing out that a wide variety of human needs create the conditions that fuel the rise of cults the world over, Farberman adds, "I’m hopeful the audience will empathize with some, if not all, of the people on stage. If they can they will gain some insight into this disturbing phenomenon."

The opera is directed by Beth Greenberg, with set design by Lynn Sharp Spears and lighting design by Farley Whitfield. The cast includes bass-baritone Dean Elzinga as Eddie; soprano Jody Sheinbaum as Jenny; tenor William Ferguson as Josh; mezzo-soprano September Bigelow as Stephanie; soprano Vanessa Conlin as Diana; baritone Graham Fandrei as Michael; and tenor Gregory Mercer as Phillip.

For information and tickets, call the Fisher Center box office at 845-758-7900 or visit

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Composer and conductor Harold Farberman has written diverse works for orchestra, three operas, numerous chamber works, an Academy Award–winning documentary film score, and music for dance companies. His works have been performed all over the world; many are represented on three CDs devoted to his music, released by Albany Records. An advocate of modern music, Farberman received the Ives Award for his definitive interpretations of the work of Charles Ives. His recordings of Mahler, Michael Haydn, and Irwin Bazelon, as well as that of Ives and his own music, have earned worldwide recognition for excellence. Farberman founded the Conductors Guild and is the author of a pioneering work, related to physical movement of the baton, titled The Art of Conducting Technique: A New Perspective. He is also the founder and artistic director of the Conductors Institute, and director of Bard’s master of fine arts degree program in conducting. He was a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s percussion section from 1951 to 1963, its youngest performer when he joined the orchestra immediately after his graduation from The Juilliard School of Music.

Andrew Joffe is librettist for Beast and Superbeast, a trilogy based on short stories by the English author Saki, the first part of which, Tobermory, won first prize in a National Opera Association competition. His other libretti include the chamber operas Faust Triumphant and Medea in Exile and a two-act opera based on the classic French novel, A Rebours. He is at work on an operatic version of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening that was featured by the New York City Opera in its 2003 VOX Festival of new works; on pieces based on the classical figures Antigone and Cassandra; and on an original opera for video. As artistic director of the American Chamber Company in New York, he has staged more than 40 works, including the premieres of Alice Shield’s Mass for the Dead; Douglas Anderson’s My Year, My Life; Larry Lipkis’s Peronelle; and Bruce Adolph’s The Tell-Tale Heart. He is a 1982 graduate of Bard College.

Beth Greenberg has directed numerous productions for the New York City Opera, including Turandot, Les Contes des Hoffmann, Der Rosenkavalier, La Bohème, Tosca, and La Traviata. Recent productions she has directed include Tosca for the Asociación Bel Canto in Lima, Peru; Carmen for Tokyo’s City Opera; Lucia di Lammermoor, Don Pasquale, and Regina for the Pittsburgh Opera Center; Eugene Onegin for Opera Delaware; and The Pirates of Penzance and La Bohème for the Asheville Lyric Opera. She directed the New York premiere of the Jorge Martin/Andrew Joffe award-winning chamber opera Tobermory from their trilogy Beast and Superbeast. Greenberg has also directed comic plays, including Paul Rudnick’s Jeffrey at Lincoln Center’s Clark Studio Theater. In Austria she was the assistant director for Gotz Friedrich’s production of Porgy and Bess for the Bregenz Festival Lake Stage, and in Germany she assisted Francesca Zambello for Berlin’s Theater des Westen’s production of Street Scene, also filmed for German television. Greenberg serves as a juror for the finals for the Center for Contemporary Opera’s International Competition.


September Bigelow appeared at the 2003 Bard SummerScape Festival as Košinská in Janáček’s Osud; with Bronx Opera as Ernestina in Rossini’s L’Equivoco Stravagante; with Opera Company of Brooklyn as Suzy in Puccini’s La Rondine; with DiCapo Opera Theatre as Mistress (covering Clara) in Sondheim’s Passion; as Giannetta in L’Elisir d’Amore; and in Soong Fu-Yuan’s new opera, Return to Paradise, with Jerry Hadley. She made her Carnegie Hall debut as Noah’s wife in Stravinsky’s The Flood with the London Sinfonietta, and returned in a benefit concert of Carousel as Arminey, in Verdi’s La Forza del Destino, and in Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra. For Lincoln Center, she was involved in the live recording of Strauss’s Die ägyptische Helena conducted by Leon Botstein, and in the Grammy-nominated live recording of Sweeney Todd. She sang with New York City Opera in I Capuletti e I Montecchi and with South Carolina Opera as Jessie Bond in Topsy-Turvy in Love, an original Gilbert and Sullivan adaptation conceived and directed by Bill Fabris.

Soprano Vanessa Conlin has been hailed by Opera News as having an "incisive, personal timbre and real dramatic presence in her portrayal of Miss Jessell" in Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw. The Boston Globe said, "Vanessa Conlin’s Cherubino, with ‘his’ out-front, sunny exuberant celebration of sexuality . . . made her an endearing stage presence with a lush soprano to go along with it." Conlin was a member of the original cast of Baz Luhrmann’s production of La Bohème on Broadway. Recent engagements have included Micaëla in Carmen with the Evansville Philharmonic, Musetta in La Bohème with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, Zerlina in Don Giovanni at the Bardavon Opera House, and Musetta at the Belleayre Summer Music Festival. She has been heard with the West Virginia Symphony as soprano soloist in Carmina Burana, Handel’s Messiah, and in an evening of opera arias. Upcoming engagements include a return to the Toledo Opera for the role of Abigail in The Crucible and Juliette in Roméo et Juliette with Milwaukee’s Skylight Opera. In 2003, Conlin won the Encouragement Award at the Sullivan Foundation competition and was the third-place finalist in the Excellence in Arts competition, and received a study grant from the Musician’s Club of New York. Conlin received a bachelor of music degree from the Manhattan School of Music and a master’s degree from Boston University, where she was the winner of the concerto competition. She has been coached by Enza Ferrari (teacher of Maria Callas) in Spoleto, Italy, and also by Marilyn Horne, Phyllis Curtin, Sherrill Milnes, Warren Jones, and Martin Katz.

With keen theatrical and musical insight and an uncommonly flexible and handsome voice, Dean Elzinga is among the most sought-after bass-baritones on the concert and opera scene. He made his professional leading-role debut at the Vienna Volksoper—Mozart’s Figaro, Leporello in Don Giovanni, Escamillo in Carmen, and Méphistophélès in Faust. Since then, he has appeared in these and other principal roles with New York City Opera, Metropolitan Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Opera San Jose, Opera Carolina, Opera Pacific, and l’Opéra Français de New York, among others. Current career highlights include Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the San Diego, Long Beach, and New West Symphonies; Mozart’s Requiem with the Eugene Symphony; Handel’s Messiah with the Ann Arbor and Baltimore Symphonies; Haydn’s Creation with the Florida Orchestra; and Bach’s B Minor Mass with the Master Chorale of Washington (in the Kennedy Center). In addition, he performed Ramfis in Verdi’s Aida for his debut with the Vancouver Opera; and his "signature" role of Méphistophélès at the Sacramento Opera. Elzinga made his Chautauqua Festival debut with Uri Segal conducting the Mozart Requiem. He sang Biterolf in Tannhäuser and Alidoro in La Cenerentola, both under James Levine, at the Metropolitan Opera. The world-premiere recording of his appearance in a concert performance of Elliott Carter’s What next? at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw was just issued on ECM Records. Elzinga earned international acclaim for his portrayals in modern monodramas, including Peter Maxwell Davies’s masterpiece Eight Songs for a Mad King with Jonathan Sheffer and New York’s Eos Orchestra. Equally at home on the concert stage, Elzinga has sung with the American Symphony Orchestra, Pacific Symphony, San Diego Chamber Orchestra, Florida Philharmonic, Pacific Chorale, William Hall Master Chorale, and at the Pacific Choral Festival. At New York’s Bard Music Festival he performed in Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, Haydn’s Die Jahreszeiten, Schoenberg’s Die glückliche Hand, and a recital of songs by Schoenberg, Strauss, Reger, Marx, and Berg.

Baritone Graham Fandrei has performed leading roles with Opera Theatre of St. Louis’s recent production of Dream of the Pacific and DiCapo Opera’s La Perichole. He appeared as Schaunard, Marcello, and the Sergeant on Broadway in Baz Luhrman’s production of La Bohème. He has also appeared with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Juilliard Opera Theater, BayArea Summer Opera Institute, Longwood Opera, Orchestra X, Berkshire Opera Company, and Encompass Opera Theater. He was a New England regional finalist in the 1999 Metropolitan Opera Competition and a winner of the N.E.C. Vocal Concerto Competition. Fandrei attended The Juilliard School and received a bachelor of music degree from the New England Conservatory.

Tenor William Ferguson has performed leading roles with New York City Opera, Opera Festival of New Jersey, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Music Academy of the West, the Chautauqua Institution, and at the Tanglewood Music Center (with Maestro Seiji Ozawa). In concert, he has performed with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and Wheeling Symphony Orchestra; and has been presented in recitals with the Marilyn Horne Foundation and New York Festival of Song. He made his Alice Tully debut recital in November 2003. He attended The Juilliard School, where he received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Tenor Gregory Mercer has been hailed throughout the world for the sweetness and agility of his voice, his musicality, and his acting ability. He is equally at home on opera, concert, and recital stages. He sang in four productions at the New York City Opera during the 2003–2004 season: Tosca, Of Mice and Men, The Marriage of Figaro, and a new production of Rossini’s recently discovered Ermione. Among numerous other U.S. opera companies he has sung with are the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera’s Western Opera Theater, Virginia Opera, and L’Opera Francais de New York. As a concert artist, Mercer has been featured with several major orchestras, including the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Brooklyn Philharmonic, and Grant Park Symphony in Chicago. Choral groups include the Oratorio Society of New York, New York Choral Society, and Dessoff Choirs. Mercer has appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, German National Television, Czech National Television, and Yugoslav National Television. He has recorded for theAlbany, Caedmon, Vox, Koch, New World, and Original Cast record labels. He is tenor soloist, cantor, and assistant conductor at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

Soprano Jody Sheinbaum is on the roster at New York City Opera, where she made her company debut as Papagena, and has covered Sandrina in La Fina Giardiniera, Beth in Little Women, and Servilia in La Clemenza di Tito. Other roles include Mabel in Pirates of Penzance and the Slave in Salome with the Santa Fe Opera; Servilia with Christopher Hogwood and the National Symphony Orchestra; Despina in Così fan tutte with San Francisco Opera’s Western Opera Theater; Baby Doe in The Ballad of Baby Doe with Israel Vocal Arts Institute; and Dona Clara in The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Miss Regan in The Bridal Night, and Nezira in To Triumph with American Opera Projects. She has appeared with the Louisiana Philharmonic, Santa Fe Symphony, Orchestre du Moulin d’Andé, and Mannes Orchestra. She specializes in Japanese art song, and her recital engagements include a wide variety of song literature, ranging from regional European dialects to contemporary American song. Sheinbaum performed several works by composer Tom Cipullo, including the world premiere of his song cycle How to Get Heat without Fire in New York, and recently recorded the role of Young Alice for his new opera, Glory Denied. She has received numerous awards, including a Richard F. Gold Career Grant, the Anna Case Mackay Memorial Award from the Santa Fe Opera, and a Liederkranz Foundation award for voice. A native of New Jersey, Sheinbaum received a bachelor’s degree in Asian studies and Japanese language from the University of Pennsylvania, and a master’s degree from the Mannes College of Music.

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The Conductors Institute, founded and directed by Harold Farberman, is now in its third decade of existence and its sixth year at Bard College. The Institute offers programs for professional and student conductors and composers, including an intensive 15-month program leading to a master of fine arts degree in conducting.


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This event was last updated on 07-19-2004