Sunday, September 17, 2017

Crossing with Rod Gilfry makes NY debut at BAM

Rod Gilfry as Walt Whitman in Crossing
Matthew Aucoin's opera Crossing is making its New York premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music from October 3-8. The ageless barihunk Rod Gilfry returns in the role of Walt Whitmen, whose Civil War diary that he kept while working as a nurse inspired the opera.

Crossing explores how the individual experiences of soldiers are remembered and told. As Whitman listens to wounded veterans share their memories and messages, he forges a bond with a soldier who forces him to examine his own role as writer and poet. The opera, directed by Diane Paulus, begins with Walt Whitman's prologue, delivered while facing the audience in front a bunch of rickety hospital beds. Whitman sings, “What is it, then, between us?,” a key line from his poem “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.” While caring for the injured soldiers, Whitman is drawn to a haunted-looking soldier names John Wormley, who is sung by tenor Alexander Lewis. The opera deals with a number of "crossings," including between poet and reader, performer and audience, and the contradictory elements of Walt Whitman himself.

The cast also includes a spate of barihunks, including Davone Tines as a South Carolina slave, Hadleigh Adams, Michael Kelly as a soldier, Ben Lowe, Matthew Patrick Morris and Jorell Williams. Tickets are available online.

The opera heads to California for its West Coast premiere in May 2018 for a concert performance at the Los Angeles Opera, which also stars Rod Gilfry. The opera originally premiered in May 2015 at the Shubert Theater in Boston.

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