Bellissima Opera & Working in Concert presents the
June 2020 Premiere of
THE TRANSCENDENCE TRIPTYCH
Three New Operas for Today
The World-Premiere of Future Perfect
- a modern tale of transcendence inspired by
1,300 Chicago youth
Excerpts from Outside the Ring
- the Max Schmeling Joe Louis friendship
that defied two nations
Scene from Reconciliation
- an incredible story of restorative justice
Since 2014, Bellissima Opera has been developing The Transcendence Triptych, a new operatic triple-bill celebrating individuals who transcended the human divide. The opera of Future Perfect is drawn from 5 years of workshops with Chicago youth in seven schools. With the help of professional musicians, poets, and artists, 1300 students participated in writing and drawing workshops exploring the concepts of separateness, interconnectedness and transcendence through a variety of lenses.
The substantial body of work resulting from these workshops have inspired Future Perfect, the tale of an intuitive and curious girl on a journey to rediscover something society has lost and the colorful cast of characters she meets along her way. See our short YouTube Documentary working with Chicago youth on the opera.
The story of Outside the Ring is based on the friendship that developed between the boxers German Max Schmeling and American Joe Louis decades after their two epic fights at Yankee Stadium in the 1930s. The intense focus of those two fighters foreshadowed the impending war between their respective countries. Listen to an excerpt here.
Reconciliation highlights an extraordinary act of forgiveness that occurred during The Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings following the end of apartheid in South Africa. Our opera will be set in a generalized time and location.
The 2021 premiere will present excerpts from Outside the Ring and Reconciliation and a fully staged production of Future Perfect with soloists, chorus, youth, dancers and orchestra. We are specifically seeking to include underserved youth in various aspects of the opera and to offer numerous complimentary tickets to youth for each performance.
Leading the project is Bellissima’s Artistic Director Christine Steyer. The operas’ scores will be the work of acclaimed composer David Shenton set to libretti by Steyer.
Currently Bellissima Opera is continuing to develop Outside the Ring and Reconciliation to premiere in subsequent years.
Read more about each opera by clicking here:
Future Perfect Opera
Future Perfect 2014-19 Workshops
Outside the Ring Opera
June 2020 Cast & Production Team
CONSULTANTS & SPECIAL PROJECTS
DAVID SHENTON composer
David Shenton is an English pianist, violinist, composer, and arranger based in New York City. As pianist/music director David has worked with musicians in all genres, from Vanessa Williams and Tony Bennett, to Sierra Boggess and Denyce Graves, Renée Fleming and Sherrill Milnes, Michael Feinstein and Sir André Previn, to Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz.
Composing since the age of 9, David has written hundreds of pieces from symphony to jazz violin concerto, ballet and film score. Career highlights include conducting his orchestra/big band at Carnegie Hall in 2014; Jazz @ Lincoln Center Rose Theater as a jazz pianist in 2008; classical piano at Lincoln Center's Rubenstein Atrium for the 200th anniversary Schumann and Chopin celebration. Music for the Center’s 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, and, as a member of O Sole Trio, the Center’s history of Italian popular music.
A prolific arranger, David has worked for Abbey Road & CTS Studios (London), on Hollywood movies, West End & Broadway shows. With lyricist Martin Charnin (Annie). David has co-created more than a dozen reviews/shows. He arranged/orchestrated for the long-running West End production of Howard Blake's The Snowman, as well as the new musical Robin Hood: The Untold Story, and for Opus X and trumpeter Chris Botti. He has composed numerous art songs for Bellissima Opera and collaborated on Six Songs for Soprano with Christine Steyer.
Currently, he is working on Bellissima Opera’s The Transcendence Triptych - 3 New Operas Exploring Our Shared Humanity. An honored graduate of the Royal College of Music, he teaches, coaches and accompanies extensively at NYU, The New School, and The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute, St. Thomas Choir School, and Grace Church School. He is composer-in-residence for the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop. His recordings include the acclaimed solo piano CD, Sunnyside Blues.
CHRISTINE STEYER librettist and creator
The soprano has distinguished herself as an artist of great versatility. In addition to being the recent recipient of seven national performance awards including the American Prize Chicago Oratorio and Opera Award and Johnny Mercer Award, Steyer has received acclaim for her portrayals of the title role in Madama Butterfly and Violetta in La Traviata. Since 2000, she has sung as a chorister and in several small roles in over 40 productions at Lyric Opera of Chicago.
A frequent recitalist, Steyer sang several concerts of Russian and American music with pianist Philip Morehead and concerts of Spanish music with guitarist Brandon Acker. Steyer seeks many innovative ways to keep classical vocal music relevant in today's world.
As a proponent of new works, she collaborated with numerous poets and musicians to publish Six Songs for Soprano and is currently collaborating with pianist composer Jean-Claude Orfali on a book of original cabaret songs.
Since 2008, Steyer has brought classical music to 23,000 youth in underserved areas with Bellissima Opera Outreach, an organization that she founded. Additionally, Steyer is the President of the new arts alliance, Working in Concert as well as the Artistic Director of one of its major initiatives: Bellissima Opera, the primary goal of which is the realization of The Transcendence Triptych. In December 2019 she was featured on WFMT’s program Music Notes: Music of Healing and Peace singing the aria “Red” from one of these new operas, Future Perfect.
Steyer just returned from a UK Tour of the musical Persuasion with Chamber Opera Chicago and a France tour with The Chicago Paris Cabaret Connexion.
Upcoming February concerts include a recital at the Schubert Festival at Unity Temple, Oak Park, where Steyer will share the stage with Lawrence Brownlee and Winston Choi. Steyer teaches voice privately in Oak Park and is an adjunct faculty member at Concordia University in River Forest, Illinois.