ANIMALOPERA introduces real opera with endearing characters that will charm and delight young and old: Boris, the Russian impressario with his company of singers - Fifi La Grande, a French poodle and coloratura soprano; Alicia Felicia Fandango, a Spanish cat and mezzo-soprano; Roberto Rigatoni, an Italian rooster and tenor; and Hagen von Fragen an der Bricke-Brucke, a German boar and baritone; and the family of mice who save the day, Father, Mother, Son and Daughter.
The story is about Sir Boris' troupe of animal opera singers who suddenly have colds and cannot sing! But every seat is sold and the show MUST go on! What to do??? The stagehands, a family of mice, take over and save the day. They sing ROMEO and JULIET, and soon everyone rediscovers the joy of singing for the fun of being alive.
ANIMALOPERA is an enhanced CD. It's a music CD with 30 minutes of music and an introductory narration. And it's a CD-ROM with a video excerpt from the San Diego Opera puppet production and lots of educational information.
The music was performed and recorded by members of the San Diego Opera Ensemble and the San Diego Youth Symphony, directed by Karen Keltner, Resident Conductor of San Diego Opera.
MYRON FINK: Composer
Myron Fink, born in Chicago in 1932, studied at the Eastman and Juilliard Schools of Music and at the University of Illinois where he received his Bachelor of Music degree in 1954 and his Master of Music in 1955. He spent the following year at the Staats-Akademie der Musik in Vienna as the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship. His teachers include Felix Borowski, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Bernard Wagenaar, Burrill Phillips and Robert Palmer.
Mr. Fink is active as a composer, pianist, coach-accompanist, teacher and lecturer, currently residing in San Diego, CA. He was on the faculty of Hunter College of the City University of New York from 1966 to 1991. He also taught at the Curtis Institute of Music and at the State University of New York College at Purchase. As a pedagogue his areas of interest are composition, analysis, harmony and counterpoint.
Fink is a prolific composer who has written for voice, piano, organ, orchestra, chamber ensemble and a wide variety of instrumental and choral combinations. His greatest interest is in opera and music for the theater. His incidental music to Brecht's Caucasian Chalk Circle has been performed in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and South Africa. JEREMIAH, his first full-length opera, was premiered by Tri-Cities Opera in Binghamton, New York in 1962 and was the first opera to receive support from the New York State Council on the Arts. A second production was mounted in 1983 by the same company. The New York Times called it "one of the best operas written in the United States." A second opera, JUDITH AND HOLOFERNES was given a concert premiere in 1978. CHINCHILLA, a comic opera was commissioned and premiered by Tri-Cities Opera in 1986. His fourth opera, THE CONQUISTADOR, was commissioned and premiered by San Diego Opera in 1997 with great success.
Other recent works include four Symphonies, a Piano Concerto, a String Quartet, a Rhapsody for Klezmer Ensemble and Orchestra, and SPOON RIVER PORTRAITS, an oratorio for Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra based on Masters' Spoon River Anthology. His opera for children ANIMALOPERA, written in 2000 on commission from San Diego Opera is now available on enhanced CD. In 2003 he completed Edith Wharton: A Self Portrait, an opera based on the life of the famous early 20th century American novelist. In September 2003 it received its first public preview in a recital hosted by San Diego's Lemon Grove Historical Society in which soprano and tenor arias from the opera were performed.
DON MORELAND: Librettist
Don Moreland came to classical music late in his youth. He vividly remembers the precise moment when he discovered opera:
I did not discover classical music and particularly opera until a much later age, 14 to be exact. As a student at Concordia College in Milwaukee, a prep school for Lutheran ministers, I turned on the radio one Saturday afternoon and heard, to my intense pleasure and astonishment, singers singing in a language I did not understand and singing with beauty and powerful emotions. What were they saying? Why were they saying it - or rather, - singing it? Who were they? What was the story? I had to know.
This was, of course a Saturday broadcast from the Metropolitan opera and the beginning of my fascination with a story that is sung, not merely told, with human feelings, expressed and enlarged through music. It was a heady experience and still is.
I rushed to the library. I discovered the libretto, the actual written words - Carmen, Rigoletto, La Boheme - like small plays I could read quickly. The who, the what, the why... all became clear. I had found the key that unlocked the drama. To this day, reading a new libretto is a special delight. Another world is opening. A new voice is being heard.
After seven years in the Lutheran seminary, Don Moreland found his true calling. He entered the University of Illinois as a music student. There, in 1954, he met Myron Fink when he sang one of the lead parts in The Boor, Fink's first opera based on a Chekov short story. Their professional lives were linked from then on: Myron followed the music, Don went after the story... and the drama. A few years later, he graduated from the Yale School of Drama.
In 1960 he went to Germany on a Fulbright opera grant to collaborate with the famed composer Paul Hindemith on the American premier of his comic opera,"News of the Day" (Neues vom Tage). And when it premiered in 1961, he was commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera of New Mexico to stage it. He has also directed Verdi's Macbeth and Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia.
A man of the theater, Moreland has produced and directed stage plays. His works include the off-Broadway play The Chronicles of Bohikee Creek with James Earl Jones and the late Moses Gunn, The Tenth Man and Room Service with Jane Alexander, both at the Arena Stage in Washington DC.
His collaboration with Myron Fink over the years as librettist - storyteller or playwright of the opera if you will - has produced the biblical story-based Judith and Holofernes, Chinchilla, Fink's fifth opera set in 1920s Manhattan, The Conquistador and Animalopera. They have just completed a new opera based on the life of the famous novelist, Edith Wharton.
Don Moreland resides in San Diego, California with his wife Gill.