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Cornish Opera Theater Presents John Cage’s “Europeras 3 & 4”

December 20, 2011

SEATTLE, WA – In celebration of the centennial of John Cage’s birth, Cornish Opera Theater presents an opera like no other: Cage’s legendary Europeras 3 & 4 in a new production directed by James Darrah.

The production features a cast comprised of Cornish students along with Cornish faculty John Duykers, tenor, Natalie Lerch, soprano, Michael Delos, bass baritone, and Cristina Valdes and Roger Nelson, pianists. Connie Yun designs the lights; Christine Meyers designs the costumes; Andrew Walker, producer.

“Cage’s Europeras 3 & 4 are more aural immersion than ‘opera’, the ideal works to showcase the talent of Cornish’s young vocal artists along with seasoned veterans of the lyric stage. It’s also just plain guilty fun,” adds director Darrah.

March 7-10, 8 pm
Erickson Theatre
1524 Harvard Avenue (between Pike and Pine), Seattle

Tickets: $20 general; $15 seniors; $10 students and Cornish staff, faculty and alumni

For more information or to purchase tickets visit: or call 206.726.5030.

About the opera

“For two hundred years the Europeans have been sending us their operas; now I’m sending them back.” – John Cage

John Cage composed Europeras 3 & 4 (1990) near the end of his life as part of a series of five operas. The operas premiered in a production at Long Beach Opera (California) in 1993 directed by Andrew Culver. Although staged frequently in Europe, Europeras 3 & 4 have been mounted only once in America since the premiere.

Europera 3 is scored for six singers, six record players playing classic 78-rpm opera recordings, two pianists playing excerpts from opera transcriptions, and the occasional intrusion of a pre-recorded audio collage (culled from over 100 operas) assembled by Cage. The result is a multi-layered, multi-textured collage of sound that ranges from the sublime to the cacophonous. In contrast, Europera 4 is a more subdued meditation on opera, scored for two sopranos, a 78-rpm Victrola, a pianist and pre-recorded sounds.

Faithful to Cage’s compositional process, the performers’ actions on stage, their entrances and exits, even the selection and order of the arias they sing, is determined by chance techniques. This guarantees that each performance is unique, varying from one night to the next.

Europeras 3 & 4
runs 90 minutes total including one intermission.

About the artists

Los Angeles-based director/designer James Darrah ( is committed to new collaborative projects within the mediums of opera, theater, musical theater, and film. He recently made his directorial and design debut at Chicago Opera Theater with an acclaimed production of Charpentier’s Médée. Darrah trained as an apprentice artist with the Croatian National Theater and the Split Summer Festival, received his MFA from the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television and has mentored with directors Peter Kazaras and Stephen Wadsworth in Los Angeles and New York City. He is the recipient of several grants and fellowships in theater and music including the James Pendleton Foundation Prize and the 2009 Princess Grace Award in Theater. Darrah’s recent direction and design credits in opera include Handel’s Agrippina; the US West Coast premieres of Jonathan Dove’s Flight and Francesco Cavalli’s Giasone with OperaUCLA; Bizet’s La tragedie de Carmen and Ravel’s L’enfant et les Sortiléges with the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival; and the West Coast premiere of Benjamin Britten’s The Golden Vanity at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica. Darrah currently serves as the artistic director for the new Camden Stage Festival in Maine. This spring will see him design costumes for and direct a new production of Handel’s Teseo at Chicago Opera Theater as well as direct Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea at OperaUCLA.

Soprano Natalie Lerch has performed from Alaska to New York, as well as in Italy, Canada, England and Brazil. She has sung professionally with Spotlight Dinner Theatre, Columbus Light Opera, The Reality Theatre and Opera!Columbus, as well as The Norman Luboff Touring Choir and Divalycious, a soprano quartet. In 1997, she won the Concerto/Aria Competition and performed Knoxville: Summer of 1915 by Samuel Barber with the Ohio University Orchestra. During a trip to Brazil in 1999, Lerch performed a jazz version of Un bel di vedremo from Madama Butterfly with the Jazz Ensemble from the Federal University of Rio in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a work she reprised at the Tacoma Jazz Festival in 2004 with The Jazz Police. In 2007, she also sang under the direction of Brian Kay in Canterbury Cathedral with the Berkshire Choral Festival. Her representative roles include Lady Ella in Patience, Miss Pinkerton in The Old Maid and the Thief, Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte, Casilda in The Gondoliers, Peep Bo in The Mikado, Lenny in Crimes of the Heart, Nancy in Oliver, and Mrs. Grose in The Turn of the Screw. Ms. Lerch has performed in master classes and weeklong workshops with Renee Fleming, Julianne Baird, Dr. William McIver and Benton Hess, Dale Moore and Robert Edwin. Dr. Lerch holds degrees in vocal performance from the University of Alaska in Anchorage (B.M.), Ohio University (M.M.), and the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York (D.M.A.).

Internationally acclaimed tenor, John Duykers, made his professional operatic debut with Seattle Opera in 1964. Since then he has appeared with the leading opera companies of the world including The Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Royal Opera Covent Garden, Netherlands Opera, the Grand Theatre of Geneva Opera de Marseille, the Canadian Opera Company, Santa Fe Opera, Los Angeles Opera, and the Opera Company of Philadelphia. Duykers is particularly known for his performances of contemporary music, having sung in more than 100 contemporary operas and including more than 60 world premieres. He has had a close association with a number of contemporary composers, notably John Adams and Philip Glass. He sang the premiere of Glass’ White Raven, In The Penal Colony and the title role of Galileo Galilei. He also created the role of Mao Tse Tung in John Adams’ Nixon in China, which he performed throughout the world to great acclaim. Duykers has appeared regularly with San Francisco Opera where he performed in recent seasons in Britten’s Billy Budd, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and Ligeti’s Grand Macabre, Los Angeles Opera, where he sang most recently in Strauss’ Die Frau Ohne Schatten, and at Santa Fe Opera where he returned in 2008 as Red Whiskers in Britten’s Billy Budd.

With a repertoire of over forty operatic roles, bass-baritone Michael Delos has appeared with the New York City Opera, L’Opera de Monte Carlo, Chicago Opera Theater, Seattle Opera, Portland Opera, Hawaii Opera Theater, Opera Omaha, Opera Utah and Vancouver Opera. Featured roles include Nick Shadow in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, Don Alfonso in Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte, Leporello in Don Giovanni, Capulet in Gounod’s Romeo and Juliette and Colline in La Boheme. Much in demand as a concert performer, Delos has sung with the Detroit Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Oregon Symphony, Sacramento Symphony, the Toyko Nihon Shinsei Symphony and the Osaka Symphony. He also has been a featured soloist with the Peter Britt Festival and the prestigious Carmel Bach Festival. His expansive repertoire includes Stravinsky’s Les Noces, Handel’s Saul, Judas Maccabeus and Messiah, the Bach Passions and the Beethoven 9th Symphony and Missa Solemnis. Delos is also an active voice-over artist. His voice may be heard on the movie soundtracks of Shrek The Halls, Ghostrider, John Q and the Celestine Prophecy as well as the video games Age of Empire, Halo 2, Halo 3 and World of Warcraft.

Music director Roger Nelson performs frequently as a pianist and conductor. He holds a B.A. degree from Pomona College and an M.M. in Choral Conducting from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. His early teachers were Adolph Baller and John Steele Ritter. Nelson’s previous conducting appearances have included engagements with the Minnesota Opera’s New Music Theater Ensemble, the George Coates Performance Works, and the Floating Opera on Puget Sound. Nelson also served as conductor of the Bainbridge Orchestra from 1987 to 2000 and was the pianist with the New Performance Group from 1979 until 1997. During the 1997-98 academic year Nelson was a visiting professor at Qufu Teachers University in China. As a composer, Nelson has produced a book of fiddle tunes for violin and piano in a variety of styles. He has written more than 1,200 fiddle tunes as well as choral works and ensemble pieces. He currently conducts and sings with the a cappella ensemble Canzonetta and conducts the Seattle Chinese Orchestra.

Committed to both contemporary and standard repertoire, Cristina Valdes is known for presenting innovative concerts with repertoire ranging from Bach to Xenakis. She has performed across four continents and in a multitude of venues including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Recital Hall, Nordstrom Hall, and the Kennedy Center. An avid chamber musician, Valdes has toured extensively with the Bang On a Can “All Stars” and has performed with the Seattle Chamber Players, the Mabou Mines Theater Company, the Parsons Dance Company, Antares, and Trio V. Her festival appearances include the Singapore Arts Festival, Brisbane Arts Festival, Foro Internacional de Musica Nueva in Mexico City, New Music in Miami Festival, Festival of Arts and Ideas, and the Festival of Contemporary Music in El Salvador among others. She has also performed with the Johns Hopkins Symphony Orchestra, the Binghamton Philharmonic, and the Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra. Valdes can be heard on several recordings on the Newport Classics, Albany, and Innova labels. She holds degrees from the New England Conservatory and SUNY at Stony Brook, and is the recipient of an Arts International Grant, the Thayer Award for the Arts, and an Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music grant.

Connie Yun has designed lights for numerous productions including at the Seattle Opera (Orpheus, Eurydice, Attila, Falstaff, La Traviata, Le Nozze di Figaro, Tosca, Die Fledermaus), Kentucky Opera (Carmen, Cavalleria Rusticana, I Pagliacci, Werther), Arizona Opera (The Mikado, Die Fledermaus), Tacoma Opera (Carmen, La Boheme), On the Boards (Into the Void), Pacific MusicWorks (Tancredi e Clorinda), the Seattle Opera Young Artist program (Don Giovanni, Don Quichotte, Ariadne Auf Naxos, Midsummer Night’s Dream, L’enfant et les sortileges, Gianni Schicchi, Turn of the Screw, Le Nozze di Figaro), Empty Space Theatre (Louis Slotin Sonata, 1984), Seattle Repertory Theatre (Bad Dates), and the Music Academy of the West (Albert Herring). As an assistant lighting designer, a partial list of Connie’s extensive credits at the Seattle Opera include Porgy and Bess, Carmen, and Madame Butterfly (Duane Schuler, Donald Thomas); Tristan und Isolde, Lucia di Lammermoor, Magic Flute (Duane Schuler, Robert Wierzel); Der Ring des Nibelungen, Il Trovatore, Amelia (Peter Kaczorowski, Thomas Hase, and Duane Schuler); Elektra The Pearlfishers, Bluebeard’s Castle/Erwartung (Marcus Doshi, Neil Peter Jampolis, Robert Thomson); The Flying Dutchman, Iphigenia in Tauris, Pagliacci, I Puritani (Joan Arhelger, Neil Peter Jampolis, Donald Thomas, Thomas Hase); Der Rosenkavalier, L’Italiana in Algeri, Don Giovanni, La Boheme (Paul Palazzo, Duane Schuler, Robert Wierzel, Thomas Hase); Der Ring des Nibelungen, End of the Affair, Macbeth (Peter Kaczorowski, Donald Holder, Chris Akerlind); Lohengrin, Rigoletto, Manon Lescaut, Tales of Hoffmann (Peter Kaczorowski, Thomas Hase, Donald Thomas, Robert Wierzel), and at the Metropolitan Opera in New York Iphigenie en Tauride (Neil Peter Jampolis).

Christine Meyers has designed costumes for opera, theatre and film in the U.S. and abroad. Local works include This, Speech and Debate and Circle Mirror Transformation at Seattle Repertory Theatre, Peter Pan, Border Songs, and The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears at Book-it Repertory Theatre, Julius Caesar at Seattle Shakespeare Company, and The Imaginary Invalid at Portland Center for the Performing Arts. Her relationship with Rogue Opera produced Hansel and Gretel, Carousel, and Amahl and the Night Visitor. Film credits include the 48hrFilm Lethal Cotillion, which screened at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, and the recent Ryder Clan. She has worked since 1999 with HandelFestival in Gottingen, Germany, most recently draping for Teseo.