|Born||Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada|
|Residence||Brooklyn, New York; Grande Prairie, Alberta|
|Occupation||librettist, bookwriter, lyricist, filmmaker|
|Notable work(s)||Dog Days, Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera, Song from the Uproar|
Royce Vavrek is a Canadian filmmaker, librettist, playwright and musical theatre writer known for his collaborations with composers David T. Little, Missy Mazzoli and Ricky Ian Gordon, soprano Lauren Worsham, producers Beth Morrison and Lawrence Edelson, and conductor Alan Pierson. His work has been presented at or performed by the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, New York City Opera, The Kitchen, Alarm Will Sound, International Contemporary Ensemble, Opera America, Peak Performances @ Montclair, American Lyric Theater and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, among others. His current commissions include operas for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Fort Worth Opera and a musical for Signature Theater. Vavrek's filmmaking credits include From Sky and Soil, which was created as part of the Corus Young Filmmakers Initiative for broadcast on the W Network through a prize administered by the Canadian Film and Television Production Association.
- 1 Opera and Music Theater
- 2 Concert Works
- 3 The Coterie
- 4 Plays
- 5 Selected filmmography
- 6 References
Opera and Music Theater
An opera about Gertrude Stein's Parisian salons with composer Ricky Ian Gordon written for mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe and commissioned by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. The work is slated to premiere on June 14th, 2014 under the baton of Michael Christie in a production directed by James Robinson.
The first full-length collaboration with composer David T. Little yielded the three-act opera Dog Days which premiered at Peak Performances @ Montclair State in association with Beth Morrison Projects on September 29, 2012, in a staging by director Robert Woodruff. The work starred Lauren Worsham as Lisa, a 13 year-old girl who befriends a man in a dog suit begging for scraps during a post-apocalyptic wartime scenario. Steve Smith of The New York Times said of Vavrek's libretto: "Profanities pop like a string of firecrackers in Mr. Vavrek’s libretto, yet its poetry is indelible and affecting."
The piece began as a commission from Carnegie Hall when Little was chosen to compose a 20-minute work of music theater as part of Dawn Upshaw and Osvaldo Golijov's workshop in collaboration with singers from Bard Conservatory. Alan Pierson, the conductor of the performance at Zankel Hall returned to conduct Newspeak for the world premiere production in New Jersey.
Song from the Uproar
With Missy Mazzoli, Vavrek completed the libretto to Mazzoli's first opera about the life of Swiss explorer and writer Isabelle Eberhardt. The production featured films by Stephen Taylor, direction by Gia Forakis and was produced by Beth Morrison Projects. A sold out run at The Kitchen in February 2012 was followed by the release of the original cast recording on New Amsterdam Records the following November.
A one-act opera from composer Du Yun about fallen angels who are captured by a human couple and forced into prostitution to earn back the feathers that were brutally cut from their backs. Hai-Ting Chin and Peter Tantsits were featured in the cast under the direction of Habib Azar, the International Contemporary Ensemble played the world premiere at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts.
Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera
Commissioned and premiered by Bard Conservatory, Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera is a one-act operatic comedy about the Flemish folk-sport of finch-sitting. The piece was subsequently featured in New York City Opera's VOX: Contemporary Opera Lab, and was staged by soprano Lauren Flanigan at Shenandoah Conservatory.
Strangers in Many Ways
Vavrek's largest collaboration with Matt Marks is a collection of individually commissioned works that revolve around the Frick Family living in suburban Los Angeles. The first piece, A Song for Wade (This is Not That Song) was premiered by ensemble Alarm Will Sound in 2011 at the Mizzou New Music Summer Festivall. The second piece, Strip Mall, will be premiered by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in April 2013. The final piece, Sitcom, is being written for the Brooklyn Philharmonic.
A theatrical song cycle written with composer Hannah Lash exploring a young red-headed monarch known for his partying, questionable Hallowe'en costumes and on-again, off again relationship with his girlfriend known only as "C." The show is being created for ensemble loadbang and will premiere at Symphony Space in New York City on April 8, 2013.
Maren of Vardø
The first full-length opera from composer with Jeff Myers, Maren of Vardø, is inspired by the Norwegian witch trials of the 17th century, and centers on the romance of a young girl and Satan manifest in the form of a centaur. Center City Opera Theater in Philadelphia will stage the world premiere in 2013 after showcases as part of New York City Opera's VOX: Contemporary Opera Lab and The Coterie, as well as a workshop through the Yale Institute of Music Theater.
The Wild Beast of the Bungalow
Three darkly comedic one-act operas composed by Rachel Peters about a pre-teen girl with a violent imagination. The first piece, Mermaid in a Jar, is based on the short story of the same name by Sheila Heti; the second piece, Prairie Dogs, is an original story inspired by the Gopher Hole Museum in Torrington, Alberta, Canada; the final piece, currently being written, is inspired by a chicken pox party.
Among the libretti Vavrek has written for one-act operas are Sex Objects (Matt Marks, composer), Nora at the Altar-Rail (Jay Anthony Gach, composer), ...of the Flesh (Jay Anthony Gach, composer), Unsaid in a Field of Wildflowers (Kristin Hevner, composer), The Hunger Art (Jeff Myers, composer), Polka (Patrick Soluri, composer), Wednesday Before Last (Kristin Hevner, composer), and Bully Pulpit (Kristin Hevner, composer).
Am I Born
The 30-minute work for soprano, children's chorus and orchestra, Am I Born, premiered as part of "Brooklyn Village," a multi-media concert co-produced and presented by the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Brooklyn Youth Chorus and Roulette. Alan Pierson conducted the Brooklyn Philharmonic, soprano Mellissa Hughes and members of both the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and BYCA's Young Men's Ensemble.
Matt Mehlan (of the band Skeletons) composed the 7-minute piece Canvas to a lyric by Vavrek, also commissioned for the multi-media concert "Brooklyn Village." The premiere featured soprano soloist Lauren Worsham, the Brooklyn Philharmonic and the BYCA's Young Men's Ensemble.
A song cycle by Swiss composer Mark Baechle for soprano Amanda Pabyan and pianist Molly Morkoski, featuring 7 lyrics by Vavrek inspired by paintings created in the year 1882 by the likes of John Collier, Jean-Louis Forain, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Vincent van Gogh, and others. The work was premiered on October 9, 2011 at the Tenri Cultural Institute in New York City. The project was made possible by a grant from the Swiss Society of New York.
With soprano Lauren Worsham, Vavrek is the co-founder and co-Artistic Director of downtown opera-theater company The Coterie. Through a series of concerts that often function as incubators for larger projects, the company has presented world premieres by many young operatic and musical theater composers including Rachel Peters, Jeff Myers, Kyle Jarrow, Paola Prestini, Cristian Amigo, Matt Marks, Mark Baechle, Christine Donkin, Joshua Schmidt, Julia Meinwald and Andrew Gerle. In December 2012, the company will premiere new works by Aaron Roche, Mel Marvin, Zach Redler, Aaron Gervais and Conrad Winslow alongside new projects from many returning contributors. Among the many performers to lend their talents to the company are Tony Award-winner Chuck Cooper, Tony nominee Barbara Walsh, actress-singers Theresa McCarthy and Morgan James and actor-singers Greg Hildreth and Zachary James.
Vavrek's play Motherless Pig was featured in the collective production of Menagerie by Sound and Fury Theatre in Edmonton, Alberta, in a production that garnered an Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Award nomination for Best Production by a Collective in 2002. In a review for See Magazine, Gilbert Bouchard called the work a "deeply satirical, highly entertaining fable." In the same review he wrote: "With his sharp, crisp, witty script, Vavrek deconstructs identity politics without ever dipping into the pedantic or falling prey to either easy sentimentality or unvarnished pathos."
In May 2009, Vavrek premiered lyrics in four original songs written for Mikhael Tara Garver's nonplay, a work loosely based on August Strindberg's A Dream Play. Songs include Pins and Needles composed by Matt Burns and Joy Son, and Et Cetera, Goodbye, My Little Lover, and Gravitylessness composed by Andrew Gerle.
|Good Woman||2004||starring Marc Bouwer|
|From Sky and Soil||2005||Winner of the CFTPA Corus Young Filmmakers Initiative, 2004|
|I Will Not Be Sad Anymore||2005||Winner of the Quebec Cooperative Filmmakers Initiative "No Sweat" Competition, 2005|
|Pig and Bear||2008||International screening as part of TELEGRAMS from the New Canadian Cinema|
- Sterling Awards Homepage
- SEE Magazine: May 2, 2002
- Corus Entertainment - Press_Corporate