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Multiple Choice: Exploring Religious Plurality through REV. 23, a New Opera

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - 6:00pm to 7:30pm
Members: $20 | Visitors: $30

Multiple Choice

Exploring Religious Plurality through REV. 23, a New Opera

The Book of Revelation ends at chapter 22. Or does it?

REV. 23 is a fantastical imagining of the hypothetical 23rd chapter of the Book of Revelation by librettist Cerise Lim Jacobs and composer Julian Wachner, set to premier in September in Boston. Join us for an exploration of the opera’s predominant theme of tension between light and dark. Our panelists—Buddhist, Humanist, and Muslim chaplains—will respond to arias from REV. 23 through the lens of their faith traditions to spark conversations on the diverse philosophical and theological approaches to fundamental questions of the human experience. Select arias from REV. 23 will be performed.

Cerise Lim Jacobs creates new American opera influenced by her past in multicultural Singapore and her global travels. Her original libretti are inspired by the myths that permeate our imaginations and the impulses of current events and human encounters. With her husband Charles, she created and wrote the libretti for the Ouroboros Trilogy; the trilogy’s second opera, Madame White Snake, won the Pulitzer Prize for composer Zhou Long in 2011. Jacobs holds a degree in English from the University of Pittsburgh and a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and was a trial partner at Goodwin Procter LLP and a federal prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Boston for 5 years before retiring from the practice of law.

Christopher Carbin is a bass-baritone based in Boston, and a recent graduate of the New England Conservatory of music. Carbin is quickly becoming recognized for his versatility as an artist and his affinity for new opera. As a Gerdine Young Artist at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, he covered the role of Abdullah in the world premiere of Shalimar the Clown by Jack Perla. While at New England Conservatory, he performed leading roles in workshops showcasing more new works - REV. 23 by Julian Wachner and Gilgamesh by Paola Prestini (both libretti by Cerise Jacobs.) In the coming months, he will be performing in a concert reading of Crafting the Bonds, a new opera by Elena Ruehr, followed by a performance of Gianni Schicchi as Simone with the Crested Butte Opera Studio in Colorado. In spring of 2018, he will be creating the role of Marsyas in the next of Cerise Jacobs' projects, PermaDeath.

Celeste Godin recently performed as “a completely brilliant Rodolfo” (Boston Musical Intelligencer) in MetroWest Opera's La Femme Bohème, as well as Echo in Ariadne auf Naxos with Lowell House Opera. She studied at New England Conservatory of Music (obtaining a master’s degree in vocal pedagogy and a graduate diploma for vocal performance), where she appeared as Agrippina (Agrippina), Blanche de la Force (Dialogues of the Carmelites), First Lady (The Magic Flute), and Ku in the staged workshop of Gilgamesh (she covered the role in the world premier). In Seattle, she has appeared as Second Lady (The Magic Flute) with Pacific MusicWorks, and as Mimi in the Seattle Opera Guild Previews for La bohème. As part of Tacoma Opera’s Young Artist Program, she performed the Soprano in Weill's Berlin to Broadway, and covered Musetta (La bohème) and Despina (Così fan tutte). She premiered Rita Ueda's one-woman opera for prepared piano and soprano, One Thousand Paper Cranes, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Other full roles include Semele (Semele) at Pacific Lutheran University under the baton of Stephen Stubbs, and Lady Billows (Albert Herring). She frequently sings with Boston Art Song Society, and will soon be performing the role of Andeng in Noli Me Tangere with Opera Brittenica.

Baritone Josh Quinn, has been praised for his “butter-smooth timbral beauty” (Boston Musical Intelligencer) and for vocalism to which one should “sit up and take listen” (Dallas News). As a Gerdine Young Artist at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, he sang the roles of the 2nd Commissioner in Dialogues of the Carmelites and Rabonnier in La Rondine. He also covered the Marquis in Dialogues of the Carmelites, Leo Stein in the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s “27,” Rambaldo in La Rondine, and Isacio in the US premiere of Handel’s Richard the Lionheart. Highlights of Quinn’s 2015/16 season include Sciarrone in Tosca at Maine’s PORTopera; Jesus in the St. Matthew’ s Passion with the New York Metamorphosis Orchestra; his debut with the American Symphony Orchestra in Hindemith’s opera The Long Christmas Dinner; and Don Alfonso in Cosi fan Tutte with the Merola Opera Program. In 2017, Quinn originated the role of Lucifer in Julian Wachner’s new opera Rev. 23, at the Prototype Festival in New York City. This summer, he will be a Marc and Eva Stern Fellow at Songfest, singing in recitals with Martin Katz, Graham Johnson, and John Musto. Following that, he will sing the role of Captain Walton in Libby Larsen’s Frankenstein at West Edge Opera.

Timothy Steele is an active vocal coach, collaborative pianist, and conductor, and has taught for twenty-six years on the opera faculty at New England Conservatory. He has conducted for outreach tours with the Boston Lyric Opera and is a former music director for Opera Providence. He has served as assistant conductor/pianist for over 140 productions with twenty-five opera companies, including Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Boston Lyric Opera, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, Wolf Trap Opera, Central City Opera, and PORT Opera. He assisted with the Pulitzer Prize winning opera MADAME WHITE SNAKE for productions in Boston and Taiwan and the OUROBOROS TRILOGY in 2016, and for three years collaborated with WaterFire-Providence on a unique and popular series of opera evenings. In Boston, he has performed with Emmanuel Music, the Handel and Haydn Society, and the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, among others.

Walker Bristol is a Humanist chaplain endorsed through The Humanist Society, currently serving on the chaplaincy staff at Tufts University and as a student chaplain at Brigham and Women's Hospital. He has previously worked with the Humanist Community at Harvard and the Foundation Beyond Belief, and been a regular contributor to the Huffington Post Religion and Bristol was born and raised in North Carolina and currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he also attends the Friends Meeting at Cambridge.

Celene Ibrahim is a chaplain, scholar, and educator. Ibrahim is widely published and holds a joint faculty appointment as Islamic Studies Scholar-in-Residence at Hebrew College and Andover Newton Theological School. She also serves as the Muslim Chaplain for Tufts University and is on the faculty of the newly established Boston Islamic Seminary. Ibrahim holds a master's degree in women's and gender studies and Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University, a master's of divinity from Harvard Divinity School, and a bachelor's degree in Near Eastern studies from Princeton University.

The Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi is the Buddhist Chaplain at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Founding President and CEO of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT. He has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and physics and a graduate degree in comparative philosophy of religion from Harvard University. He studied with, and was trained and ordained by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He has been interviewed by National Public Radio and articles on him and his work have appeared in the New York Times and the Boston Globe. He also speaks at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and various institutes of learning. Tenzin serves on the board of several academic, humanitarian, and religious organizations. He lectures internationally on subjects ranging from philosophy, science, ethics and religion to socio-political thought.

Sheila F. Winborne is an interdisciplinary scholar and a proponent for greater education about the cultural significances of the visual arts. She serves at Northeastern University as an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion, and as an affiliated faculty member in the Department of Cultures, Societies, and Global Studies. She teaches interdisciplinary courses in religion, philosophy, and film. Her research includes analysis of religious and multicultural themes in visual culture of the late nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. She explores how artists often use forms of spiritual, theological, and prophetic language to describe their artistic purposes, and how visual culture reflects and influences community beliefs and practices. Winborne’s areas of teaching and research include: visual culture; theology; the history of representations of Jesus Christ in fine art and film; African-American and African Diaspora Studies; introduction to world religions with focus on artistic expression in faith traditions. She has had practical experiences in each of the visual media about which she teaches and does research. She is concerned with how the theologian and visual artist share a common goal—to gather thoughts and to present them in a different light to provoke critical analyses, insights, and new creations that may aid in the development of more conscious, compassionate, and ethical human interactions.

Boston-based mezzo-soprano Britt Brown has been featured in performances with Boston Opera Collaborative, MetroWest Opera, Beth Morrison Projects, and Boston Midsummer Opera. Brown’s recent performances include Idamante in Mozart’s Idomeneo, Beppe in L'amico Fritz, and Madama Rosa in Il Campanello. She also had the pleasure of premiering Amber Vistein’s chamber opera for mezzo, electronics, and quartet, Man will not outlive the weather, at Brown University in February. An active oratorio singer and recitalist, Brown performed as a recitalist with Rockport Music's Lecture Series for the second season, an Italian recital with The Boston Art Song Society, and a staged version of the song cycle From the diary of Virginia Woolf by Argento at the historic Zabriskie House mansion in Cambridge this season. Brown holds a Bachelor of Music Degree with Honors from Stetson University and a Master of Music from the Boston Conservatory. She currently teaches voice and piano in the greater Boston area and is a professional alto section leader and soloist at St. Andrews's Episcopal in Wellesley, MA and Temple Sinai in Sharon, MA.

This program is offered in partnership with Cerise Lim Jacobs and White Snake Projects.

The King’s Chapel Collection, a collection of books assembled and sent to Boston in 1698 for use by the clergy at King’s Chapel, is the most well-known set of religious texts held at the Athenæum. However, the library also holds materials related to a wide range of religions and religious issues, such as a Hebrew manuscript scroll of the Book of Esther, the Book of Proverbs printed in raised letters for blind readers, a nineteenth-century manuscript copy of the Qur’an, and Christian Bibles and texts printed in Native American languages with accompanying reference works such as A Theoretical and Practical Grammar of the Otchipwe Language...for Use of Missionaries and Other Persons Living among the Indians of the Above Named Tribes.

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