CATAPULT OPERA RELEASES NEW OPERA AND SHORT FILM “WHEN ALL I KNEW CHANGED” FROM ACCLAIMED ARTIST CELISSE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, PLEASE
RELEASES NEW OPERA AND SHORT FILM
“WHEN ALL I KNEW CHANGED”
MARKING THE COMPANY’S
FIRST COMMISSIONED PIECE
FROM ACCLAIMED ARTIST
New York, NY (March 13, 2023) – Catapult Opera announced today that they have commissioned a new work from multi-hyphenate performer, Celisse. Founded by Neal Goren, Catapult Opera is a new company working to launch the future of opera. One of their main initiatives is providing grants to singer-songwriters outside the classical realm to create short works at the intersection of their genre and opera. The mission of the company is to project a more dynamic future for opera by broadening the art form and its audience and launching innovative productions that celebrate the classically trained voice.
Celisse’s opera, entitled When All I Knew Changed, is the first piece to come out of the program and the first of many works that Catapult will be producing and distributing to the public for free on their website. When All I Knew Changed is now available at https://www.catapultopera.org/celisse.
When All I Knew Changed is a piece about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic through the eyes of three women, all experiencing this life-altering event in very different ways. Woman 1 represents the real fear of death and the yearning for the times before: before isolation, before exhaustive loneliness, before mind-consuming fear. She feels trapped in her apartment and is consoled only by brief moments of hope for a return to normal. Woman 2 has found that by isolating herself at home, she has found her footing in the world. She takes comfort in the solitude, seeing it as a return to nature, a life of peace and herself. She represents everyone who found new, better ways to live inside the confinements we all found ourselves. Woman 3 represents all the frontline workers who each day don’t just battle the ills of COVID-19, but the mass shortages of resources, the lack of belief in the science they face every day and the pain of being isolated from loved ones. Despite their varies experiences and responses to COVID-19, all three women work to highlight the theme of interconnectedness during a worldwide pandemic.
When All I Knew Changed offers us a first chance to look back over the past three years and take stock of what we’ve lost, what we’ve gained, and what has been irrevocably changed. This deeply humanistic record of our profoundly unique era speaks directly to this moment with both historical reverence and emotional gravity. This is art at its most urgent.
“In the days immediately following the murder of George Floyd, my Facebook feed was flooded with dozens of artists’ musical responses to the event,” says Neal Goren. “By chance, I clicked on one that introduced me to Celisse’s art. I found myself moved by the sincerity, purity, and elegance of her expression, which reminded me of my most beloved Verdi arias. Celisse seemed like the ideal candidate for Catapult’s first exploration grant, and I am proud to have been the catalyst of the brilliant cross-pollination of her genre-defying popular idiom and opera. I consider her submission to be a masterpiece and a valuable addition to the repertory.”
“When All I Knew Changed is a work that feels incredibly near and dear to my heart, infused with the kind of raw inescapable honesty that often arises in the midst of tragedy,” says Celisse. “When Neal Goren approached me to write an opera, I wasn’t sure I had anything of value to say in this medium as it is not typically the style of music I compose. However, diving headfirst into a new musical world with the sole objective of being painstakingly authentic offered me one of the richest creative experiences of my life. I do not claim to have written something perfect, but I can wholeheartedly say that I have written something TRUE. 2020 was a year of isolation; however, it is my hope that in hearing glimpses of the inner lives of the three women in this piece, it might reveal how similar and connected we all truly are.”
Celisse is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, performer, and spoken word artist. Her deep and varied career has seen her in concert with many notable musicians such as Mariah Carey, Graham Nash, Melissa Etheridge and is a founding member of Trey Anastasio’s Ghosts of the Forest. In addition to her time on tour, she has performed alongside Kesha at the 60th annual Grammy Awards, Jon Batiste on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series, and played lead guitar for Lizzo on Saturday Night Live. Celisse has also starred in the recent revival of Godspell at Circle in the Square Theater and the Broadway national tour of Wicked. On television, Celisse has appeared on PBS’s The Electric Company, 30 Rock, Rescue Me, The Big C, White Collar and more. But it’s her prodigious talents as a singer-songwriter and musician that have defined Celisse the most as an artist. Her original music, powered by her soulful voice, is hard-rocking and blues-tinged with infectious hooks that stay with you.
Catapult Opera projects a more dynamic future for opera; they seek to broaden the art form and its audience, launching innovative productions that celebrate the classically trained voice. Catapult Opera innovates to accomplish this goal by providing grants to singer-songwriters outside the classical realm to create short works at the intersection of their genre and opera. One goal of this program is to build a repository of innovative recorded material to which each grantee contributes by allowing access on the Catapult website.
Catapult began by testing the waters with an established opera composer and librettist: composer Nico Muhly and librettist Greg Pierce who created an opera entitled The Glitch, premiered online in February, 2022. The opera was widely celebrated as an example of what is possible when a work is designed for internet viewing, rather than merely captured for it. A more recent Catapult grant has produced a work by singer-songwriter Celisse which will premiere online this summer. Celisse’s extraordinary operatic composition is an outpouring of three women’s emotional responses to the COVID pandemic and its effects on their lives. Other productions in the pipeline are from the legendary performance artist Laurie Anderson and from celebrated punk rock and hard core singer-songwriter Tamar-Kali, who is also an inaugural IDEA Opera Resident Artist with Opera America.
Catapult Opera also promotes the development and acceptance of recorded operatic performance by holding competitions for short, filmed pieces that deliver a visual component as rich, immediate, and compelling as their musical language. To this end, in autumn 2020, we held a team-based competition to produce video performances of specific opera scenes chosen by Catapult. The resulting content was judged by a panel of international opera visionaries and posted on the Internet for open adjudication. The competition offered recognition for innovation as well as monetary prizes. Our intention is to continue this competition in future years to prod the development of visually satisfying opera videos.
Neal Goren, Catapult Opera’s Artistic Director, has long been celebrated for bringing new perspectives to opera. As the Founding Artistic Director of Henry Street Chamber Opera and of Gotham Chamber Opera, he legitimized and popularized the formerly-undervalued genre of chamber opera to where it is now generally credited with possessing equal expressive potential as grand opera. He collaborated with leading puppeteers, visual artists, and theater directors at a time when opera production was generally exclusive rather than inclusive of outside influences. Goren has long presented opera in non-traditional settings, including a planetarium, a botanic garden, and even a burlesque house, celebrating the music and showcasing the singers while popularizing the art form. Catapult Opera is a natural outgrowth of Goren’s forward-thinking attitude to opera, inspired by the needs of our time.
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