Prototype: An Opera Festival That Actually Earns Its Name

Posted July 16, 2018 12:59 p.m. EDT

NEW YORK — The thing about new works is that no one knows what they will be like. But the Prototype: Opera/Theatre/Now festival has established a track record of introducing New York audiences to some of the most daring new operas of the day — including Du Yun’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Angel’s Bone,” Missy Mazzoli’s “Breaking the Waves” and David T. Little’s “Dog Days.”

So the festival’s seventh season, which will run Jan. 5-13 and was announced Monday, is sure to draw interest.

The opera lineup includes “p r i s m,” a new opera by Ellen Reid about a girl with a mysterious illness and her mother, which will have its world premiere at Los Angeles Opera in November; “Stinney: An American Execution,” an opera-in-progress by Frances Pollock about the 1944 execution of a black child who was later exonerated; and “Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance” — a cross-border project by Texas-based composer Graham Reynolds and Mexico City-based librettist Lagartijas Tiradas Al Sol, featuring guitarist Adrian Quesada — which had its premiere in Marfa, Texas.

The festival, a collaboration between Beth Morrison Projects and the theater collective HERE, the theater and arts group, will also pay tribute to Matt Marks, a composer and musician who was a founding member of the contemporary chamber orchestra Alarm Will Sound. He died in May at age 38, and his opera “Mata Hari” had its premiere at Prototype in 2017.

Next season, Prototype will revive his offbeat musical theater piece “The Little Death: Vol. 1.” In the performance — a tribute and fundraiser for the Matt Marks Impact Fund of Alarm Will Sound — the male role, which was originally performed by Marks, will be performed by another composer, Ted Hearne.

There will also be several musical theater events — “ThisTree,” an exploration of infertility and the end of a family tree by cellist and composer Leah Coloff; “The Infinite Hotel,” a piece with music by Firehorse and the Few Moments that will invite members of the audience to become extras in a one-take feature film made each night; and “Train With No Midnight,” a work by singer-songwriter Joseph Keckler.