Greetings from sunny Southern California! I am excited to share some opera news with you:
On February 3, 2023, the Wilmington Concert Opera Original Cast Recording album for Girondines was released! [I confess it is a tad amusing to me to have the release date of this opera featuring several waltzes to be “2-3-23.”] You can stream the album via AmazonMusic, Spotify, AppleMusic, Pandora, YouTubeMusic, and more platforms… Physical CD copies of the album are being manufactured presently by DiscMakers and will be available to ship in May! Click the button below for CDs:
Album proceeds benefit the opera’s composer-librettist team (myself and Kirsten C. Kunkle) as well as Wilmington Concert Opera (WCO), an exclusively woman- and minority-run company founded on principles of diversity, inclusivity, and accessibility. For those curious to compare outcomes of online vs. physical CD enjoyment: album streaming online results in fraction-of-cent proceeds for artists vs. physical CD purchases generating artist income in whole dollars. (Plus you’d have a beautiful keepsake which features cover art by yours truly 🎶 .)
This album is receiving great reviews, including a write-up on the Operaville blog:
“Composer Sarah Van Sciver and librettist Kirsten C. Kunkle have created a stirring, intriguing concert opera about six prominent women of the French Revolution… Kunkle addresses the imposing morass of French politics by approaching at an intimate level, beginning with the good possibility that these six women conferred with each other on a regular basis. Van Sciver delivers these meetings with propulsive piano parts that convey the tension and terror in the Paris streets, while the addition of cello and violin add the feel of an 18th century salon. Especially in the early pieces, she works these meetings into conversational fugues, imbued with fascinating layers, harmonics and rhythms. The primary subject of these discussions is Charlotte Corday…[who] reveals her plan to murder Jean-Paul Marat, the Montagnards’ leader (“September Massacre.”) Librettist Kunkle sings the piece herself, deploying a powerful soprano and a great sense for emotion and dynamics. Two of the top notes are so forceful and exposed that they will stop the listener cold… Other intriguing pieces in the work are “My Dear Marie-Antoinette,” a musing by the queen’s favorite portraitist, Elisabeth Louise Vigee Le Brun (sung by Tracy Sturgis), and “Bonaparte,” a comic jab at Napoleon by writer Madame De Stael, sung with great wit and enunciation by Raffaella Lo Castro. …a remarkable and stimulating creation.” – Michael J. Vaughn, Operaville
And the music has been enjoyed by industry professionals who were introduced to the album via Groover:
“The lyrics are impressive.” -AFIF
“Listening to this artistic artwork is enjoyable for every audience.” -AK-47
“Such a great sound.” -Behrouz
“Amazing performance with powerful lyrics.” -Best Songs from MH
“La sensibilité et l’intensité sont au rendez-vous… servi avec des arrangements d’une grande richesse musicale. (Sensitivity and intensity rendezvous… served with arrangements of great musical richness.)” -Boulimique de Musique
“I really love the experimentation and mix of genres that you create.” -Gabriele Carone (NewAir Studio)
“The beautiful melody of your music mesmerizes my heart.” -Chaam Sound
“The songwriting is excellent.” -Dust Might
“Bellissimo il vocale molto espressivo (very expressive beautiful vocals).” -Frequenze Musicali
“…a moving release with a gorgeous string arrangement and stunning vocals…” –FV Music Blog
“Melody that transports… voice that pierces the soul. I like the atmosphere. Wonderful bravo.” -Journal d’une tatouée
“Excellent opera performance.” –Last Day Leaf
“Sicuramente potenza vocale e carisma (definitely vocal power and charisma).” -PAKO Music
“The entire composition is a masterpiece.” -PlaylistCamps
“…an emotional and powerful performance, creating a dramatic and intense atmosphere… piano and the strings complement the sound with complex and enveloping harmonies. The composition is capable of provoking a deep reflection on the social issues that still affect women around the world… a manifesto against gender inequalities and violence, demonstrating the strength and resilience of those who fight for justice and equality. The opera is impressive… sure to leave a lasting mark on listeners’ hearts and minds.” -Rádio Armazém
“Quality performance, really skilled vocal delivery.” -Secret Eclectic
“…vocals are truly remarkable… music is calming and uplifting, with a blend of classical and modern elements that create a unique sound… production is top-notch.” -Showland Productions
“This masterpiece is inspiring.” -UTH Sound
Wilmington Concert Opera (WCO) produced this Live Original Cast Recording of Girondines, a new opera in English by composer Sarah Van Sciver (c’est moi!) and librettist Kirsten C. Kunkle. Kirsten is a voting citizen of the Muscogee (Mvskoke) Nation who has been lauded as the leading Native American soprano in today’s classical music world. And Sarah writes, arranges, records, and produces scores, songs, sounds, images, and video for opera, film/TV, theater, concert, and studio album productions, blending classical, contemporary, experimental, and commercial styles.
Girondines features a vocal sextet accompanied by piano and strings. The opera shares the interconnected stories of six real-life feminist, intellectual, revolutionary, creative French Revolution women. Three are guillotined: radical murderess Charlotte Corday, moderate feminist writer Madame Manon Roland, and radical feminist writer Olympe de Gouges. Three survive political upheaval: prolific portrait-painter Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun; political theorist Madame Germaine de Staël; and inventive chemist Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze.
Women are still fighting for their voices. Gender disparity pervades opera composer and librettist distribution, and stereotypes dominate lead opera roles. Stories about real women and their personal goals, desires, and relationships with one another shift opera audience perspectives to be more inclusive of women’s lived experiences. The Girondines story epitomizes inequities, turmoil, abuse, and violence with which women continue to wrestle, struggling for autonomy of mind, body, and soul. Women worldwide pursuing science, literature, arts, and activism are still threatened. Opera itself is one of the battlegrounds on which women still fight to be fairly represented and treated in life and art. The Girondines team is proud to harness the power of opera in a fight for a better future. Vive la résistance!
THE GIRONDINES ALBUM FEATURES:
*Kirsten C. Kunkle, soprano (Charlotte Corday) & librettist
*Ashley Becker, soprano (Olympe de Gouges)
*Alyssa Maria Lehman, mezzo soprano (Madame Manon Roland)
*Raffaella Lo Castro, mezzo soprano (Madame Germaine de Staël)
*Marisa Robinson, soprano (Marie Anne Pierrette Paulze Lavoisier)
*Tracy Sturgis, soprano (Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun)
*Sarah Van Sciver, pianist-conductor & composer
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE OPERA & ARTISTS FEATURED ON THIS ALBUM
For folks involved with voice, opera, theater, musical theater, or performing arts venues, companies, festivals, or university programs, please send me a message if you’re interested in exploring opportunities to have your own reading, concert, or staging of Girondines. A piano-vocal reduction score will be available soon – stay tuned!
And for those seeking copies of my earlier albums (songwriting EPs Ophelia’s Song and Puzzle Pieces plus film-scoring and concert music EP Overture to an Adventure), visit the same platforms listed above for streaming and digital downloads, or order physical copies of CDs here.