"The Trial of Susan B. Anthony"
See this seven-movement tour de force starring Adriana Zabala (last seen by BOF audiences in our 2017 production of Ariadne auf Naxos,) who plays multiple roles as the story of Berkshire native Susan B. Anthony’s quest for justice unfolds.
This world-premiere piece is being co-produced by:
Berkshire Opera Festival
San Diego Opera
This premiere comes on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, inviting conversation about this milestone of democracy, as well as the work that still remains to achieve gender and racial equity.
This timely performance is free to the public. Please register below to attend the virtual premiere on the 26th, or the on-demand broadcast from Oct 27 to Nov 8.
Don't forget to submit your questions for our panelists in a LIVE discussion immediately following the premiere!
Adriana Zabala, mezzo-soprano
Myra Huang, piano
Steven Mark Kohn, composer & librettist
Sung in English
World-premiere: October 26, 2020, at 8pm EST/ 5pm PST
Live talkback immediately following the premiere featuring the artists and special guests: Deborah Hughes, Sharon Nelson, Elaine Weiss, and moderated by tenor Lawrence Brownlee (full bios below).
Post-premiere, BOF will host this performance for on-demand viewing October 27 through November 8, 2020 on our YouTube channel.
Registration will provide access links to the premiere and
to the on-demand broadcast.
Approximate running time: 30 minutes
Get To Know The Artists & Talkback Panelists!
You may remember mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala from her 2017 performance as The Composer in BOF's production of Ariadne auf Naxos. Located in nearby Connecticut, Adriana Zabala also recently created the title role in Aldridge’s Sister Carrie, and also sang in the world premiere casts of six other operas, including works by composers William Bolcom, Kevin Puts, Paola Prestini, and librettists Mark Campbell, Herschel Garfein, and Deborah Brevoort. She is featured on the world premiere recording of Pauline Viardot’s Le Dernier Sorcier, and on several other commercial releases of new and traditional repertoire.
Ms. Zabala has appeared in recital at the Barns at Wolf Trap, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall, the Kennedy Center, The Source Song Festival, The New York Festival of Song, and the Salzburg International Chamber Music Series. In addition to more than fifty roles with opera companies throughout the United States
and beyond, she has been a guest artist with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the New Jersey, Jerusalem, Virginia, Charlotte, and Jacksonville Symphonies, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston. She was a Fulbright Scholar in Salzburg, Austria, and an alumna of the Minnesota Opera, Wolf Trap, and Santa Fe Opera young artist programs. She currently serves as Associate Professor of Voice at the Yale School of Music.
Myra Huang (piano) is highly sought after for her interpretation of lieder and art song as well as her depth of musicianship and impeccable technique. Last season, Huang performed in recitals throughout the U.S., including The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, The Kennedy Center, The Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, and The 92nd St Y. Huang was chosen as the recipient of The Samuel Sanders Collaborative Artist Award for 2019 by The Classical Recording Foundation for her consummate artistry.
Huang has served on the music staffs of the Washington National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, New York City Opera, and The Palau De Les Arts in Valencia, Spain. She was a staff pianist for the Operalia competition, directed by Placido Domingo, for fifteen years. Huang regularly teaches at young artist programs throughout the U.S., and is on the music staff of The Steans Music Institute at Ravinia, as well as guest staff of The Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at The Metropolitan Opera. This
season, Huang joins the Faculty of The Manhattan School of Music in the Vocal Arts Department, Opera Studies Division. Huang is an avid recitalist and recording artist. Her album Gods and Monsters with tenor Nicholas Phan was nominated for “Best Classical Vocal Solo Album” at the 2018 Grammy® Awards. Her most recent album, Clairières, features the music of Lili and Nadia Boulanger and has been released to critical acclaim. Huang is a Steinway Artist.
Composer/librettist Steven Mark Kohn has written extensively for the musical stage, creating lyrics for the musicals The Quiltmaker’s Gift (Dramatic publishing), Unstoppable Me, Little Mozart and A Beautiful Place, as well as the libretto for the opera Riders of the Purple Sage (world premier by Arizona Opera in 2017, remounted in 2020), all to the music of composer Craig Bohmler. Their opera was featured in the documentary film, Riders of the Purple Sage; the Making of a Western Opera, by Emmy-winning filmmaker Kristin Atwell. Steven has written two historical song cycles: Mary Chesnut; a Civil War Diary, for soprano Jennifer Larmore; and The Trial of Susan B. Anthony, for mezzo soprano Adriana Zabala. The first of his three volumes of American Folk Song arrangements was premiered in Carnegie Hall in 2008 and they have since been performed around the world by hundreds of artists. Andrew Garland and Donna Loewy recorded the entire set on Azica records. His art song catalogue is published by EC Schirmer.
Away from the stage, Steven has had an interesting and varied career. He has written music for a number of award-winning children’s films for ABC, PBS and the Disney Channel, including the Emmy-nominated ABC Weekend Special Runaway Ralph. He has composed and arranged commercial music for Wheaties, Arby’s, Volvo, Hickory Farms, Stanley Steemer, Matrix and many others, and has created the music for over 60 titles in the guided imagery series Health Journeys, created by Belleruth Naparstek, which has sold over two million copies worldwide. For the Cleveland Institute of Music, he designed and built the Electronic Music Studio, wrote the course textbook, and served on the composition faculty for 21 years.
Our Talkback moderator, tenor Lawrence Brownlee captivates audiences and critics around the world, and has been hailed as “an international star in the bel canto operatic repertory” (The New York Times), “one of the world’s leading bel canto stars” (The Guardian), and “one of the most in-demand opera singers in the world today” (NPR). A recent review of his Arturo in I Purtani left a reviewer to write, “If there is a finer Arturo in the world other than Lawrence Brownlee, I haven’t heard him, and I have heard them all.” With an ever-increasing balance in opera, recital, and concerts, Lawrence Brownlee has cemented his place as one of the top artists in classical music. He is a regular guest at the world’s most important opera houses including The Metropolitan Opera, Teatro a lla Scala, Royal Opera House-Covent Garden, Bayerische Staatsoper, Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Opéra national de Paris, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Teatro Real,
Opernhaus Zürich, and Wiener Staatsoper. He is a fixture at the world’s top recital venues including Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, and The Kennedy Center. His concert performances include collaborations with The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, The San Francisco Symphony, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and the festivals of Baden-Baden and Salzburg.
A passionate advocate for diversity initiatives, Mr. Brownlee works with companies and engages civic entities in the cities he visits to create programs and experiences seeking to expand opera audiences. He serves as artistic advisor for Opera Philadelphia where his responsibilities include increasing and expanding audience diversity, advocating for new works, and liaising with the General Director from the perspective of a performing artist. “As an artist, I think it is important that we are actively advocating for this beautiful art form we love so much” said Brownlee, “ensuring that it will be alive and well for many years to come.”
Mr. Brownlee also serves as an Ambassador for Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Lyric Unlimited, and is a Peace Ambassador for a new initiative called Opera for Peace.
Elaine Weiss is a Baltimore-based journalist and author, whose feature writing has been recognized with prizes from the Society of Professional Journalists, and her byline has appeared in many national publications, as well as in reports for National Public Radio. Her long - form writing garnered a Pushcart Prize "Editor's Choice" award, and she is a proud MacDowell Colony Fellow. Weiss' most recent book, The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote (Viking/Penguin) has won critical acclaim from the New York Times, Wall St. Journal , Christian Science Monitor, and The New Yorker, hailed as a "riveting, nail-biting political thriller" with powerful parallels to today's political environment. The Woman's Hour was a Good Reads Readers' Choice Award winner, short - listed for the 2019 Chaut
auqua Prize, and received the American Bar Association's highest honor, the 2019 Silver Gavel Award. Steven Speilberg's Amblin production company is adapting the book for TV, with Hillary Rodham Clinton serving as Executive Producer.
Sharon Nelson is the Founder and CEO of CREW—Civically ReEngaged Women, a nonpartisan Professional Development and Leadership training organization with the Flagship "Parity Politics"and “SHEroes” Campaign programs where she believes there is a seat for all leaders at this table.
In 2016, Sharon founded Seneca Falls Revisited, a Women’s nonpartisan Conference for Civically Engaged Women at Riverside Church in NYC.
In 2018, this conference was relocated to the Hyatt Regency, Rochester as part of a 2-year NYS Centennial Celebration of the 19th Amendment which gave Women the right to “vote”. In 2019, the conference was held at the Gideon Putnam Hotel in Saratoga Springs and in 2020 the Centennial celebration will took place (virtually) in NYC. Hundreds of Women from across the US attended this conference to reconnect with their history. In 2020, she was named one of 21 Leaders for the 21st Century by Women’s E News.
Sharon is a member of the Advisory Board of the NYS Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission and the President Emeritus of the National Women’s Political Caucus – NY. Sharon re-established and re-imagined the Caucus, at the time a 46-year old organization in 2015 after a 10-year hiatus. Sharon launched a professional development course at City University of New York where women attended a 12-week course “Parity Politics” to learn how to “Run for Office” or become a Campaign Manager. The course was acknowledged and supported by NYC Campaign Finance Board and the NYC Board of Elections the course provides successful students with a Certificate of Completion.
Politically savvy, Sharon is an Operations, External Relations, Corporate and Political Strategist who is certified as a Democratic National Committee Finance Director. For 30 years she has worked with several campaigns and administrations including: The Historic Nelson Mandela “World” Tour; the administration of the106th Mayor of NYC; The Honorable David N. Dinkins; and the 1992 Inauguration of President William Jefferson Clinton. She also provided Strategy and Support to NYGOP Mayoral Candidate, Nicole Malliotakis in her 2017 “run” for office.
Sharon spent 9 years of her career as a Nursing Home and Ambulatory Care Executive for Bronx-Lebanon Healthcare System in the South Bronx. She has worked in the Arts as Chief Marketing and Development officer for the international touring company, Dance Theatre of Harlem. Sharon has served as Executive Director of the Summer Jobs Program at the New York City Partnership and launched a similar jobs training and education program for the City of Syracuse, NY. Earlier in her career, Sharon served as the Publicist for the decennial Census in NYC in 1990; on 7th Avenue in tandem with Essence Magazine featured designers; in Healthcare Public Relations for a division of Grey Advertising, GTGH Public Relations.
Sharon earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations from the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She is also a recipient of the prestigious Public Relations Society of America’s Silver Anvil Award for her contributions to the launching of National Cancer Survivors Day.
Deborah Hughes is President & CEO of the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, the National Historic Landmark in Rochester, NY, that was home and headquarters for the great reformer. During her tenure, the Anthony Museum has completed a major restoration, secured its Absolute Charter as a Museum, and dramatically grown attendance. Hughes has spearheaded innovative programming such as the award-winning “VoteTilla”, a weeklong event with scholars and re-enactors who traveled in packet boats on the canals from Seneca Falls to Rochester for NY’s Suffrage Centennial. Prior to the Anthony Museum, she had a career as an ordained minister. She has B.S. from University of Oregon, and an M. Div. from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School.
Following a public argument with her friend Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony altered her strategy of seeking a broad range of rights for women and blacks and focused exclusively on winning the vote for women. Defying state and federal law, she voted in the presidential election of 1872, and was arrested and tried in a case presided over by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ward Hunt, who directed the jury to deliver a guilty verdict. Fined $100, Anthony defiantly told the judge she would never pay--and she never did. This is the story of the landmark trial that attracted worldwide attention and made Anthony into the iconic leader of the women's rights movement.
Susan B. Anthony, painted by Carl Gutherz.
Photo courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery.