June 2, 2024 | 2:00pm - 3:00 pm
The Wende Museum

Minute to Midnight Opera Workshop

Minute to Midnight, a comedic opera, takes audiences inside a surreal portrait of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Inside a fictionalized Situation Room, we witness the tensions between John F. Kennedy, Fidel Castro, and Nikita Khrushchev. In reality, these leaders’ transmissions took hours to reach each other. Minute to Midnight compresses these conversations, putting the characters in each other’s presence. The fictionalized Situation Room heightens the absurdity of this conflict and war while grounding the opera in a contemporary conversation: how can we continue to have dialogue through difference and find common ground today?

As history continues to repeat itself, this opera creates a new interpretation of these historic events through a modern lens and an all-female cast. Moments of mutual understanding surface as a critical reminder of the ways in which history comes to define the present. This opera serves to highlight the vast power structures that exist in our world and the humanity of those who operate in it. In all of this is the implied question: “How should it be that this person can act on my behalf?” The events are portrayed by people who were not allowed to wield such power because of their biology, subverting the historical complacency of the narrative.

This workshop concert will showcase an unstaged version of the opera. Audience members will have the chance to offer feedback via a questionnaire, during a feedback session, or during the reception that follows the event.

BIOGRAPHIES

Dante De Silva, Composer

Dante De Silva is a Los Angeles-based composer and musician. He has received commissions from Grammy-winning pianist Gloria Cheng, Opera Parallele, the Verdehr Trio, the B Band, and the Humboldt State University Percussion Ensemble, among others. In addition to his commissions, performers of his work include Talea Ensemble, Pacific Serenades, pianist Ryan MacEvoy McCullough, What’s Next, and Composers Inc.. His music has been performed throughout the U.S., as well as parts of Canada and Europe. Dante holds a Ph.D. in composition from UCLA, where his primary teachers were David Lefkowitz and Paul Reale, an M.A. in composition from UC Santa Cruz with David Cope and Paul Nauert, and a B.A. in music with an emphasis in piano performance from Humboldt State University, where he studied with Brian Post (composition), Eugene Novotney (percussion, composition), and Deborah Clasquin (piano).

Alan Olejniczak, Librettist

Alan Olejniczak is an opera librettist and playwright based in San Francisco. His operas, including Atlas of Remote Islands (2023) and Unbound, (2021) with music by Nathan Hall, and Death of Ivan Ilych (2021) with music by John Young. His musical drama Concerto premiered in 2023 with The Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma in partnership with The Oklahoma City Philharmonic. Alan looks forward to premiering his nativity oratorio, Yosef and the Counseling Angel with music by Cole Thomason-Redus in Denver this December. Alan currently has six other operas in development and has set the text for the song cycle A Light Rekindled with Iranian-American composer Amin Sarrafi. Alan is also the Playwright in Residence with The Proscenium, a London-based online theatre company and was the Artist in Residence for Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and the first playwright ever selected by the National Parks Arts Foundation. Alan will return to Svalbard in August 2024, for another residency for their Alumni Expedition. Alan is currently an Opera Committee Member of the Dramatist Guild and an Advisory Board Member of Opera Parallèle in San Francisco.

About Synchromy

Synchromy’s mission is to elevate underrepresented Los Angeles-based composers and expand the scope of new music through composer support, commissions, collaborations, and community engagement. Synchromy began in 2002 to improve visibility for local composers in LA’s new music scene, which predominantly featured music from elsewhere. Recognizing LA’s potential as a hub for contemporary music, local composers banded together to speak up for each other. Los Angeles is now that hub we dreamed of and Synchromy has grown into a general composer support network, featuring Los Angeles-based composers of all backgrounds by providing assistance and performances that are tailored to their unique needs.

This performance is made possible in part by the City of Culver City and its Cultural Affairs Commission, with support from Sony Pictures Entertainment.

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