Séance on a Wet Afternoon

A New Opera by Stephen Schwartz

  • “Stephen Schwartz made his first foray into opera with his much-anticipated adaptation of ‘Séance on a Wet Afternoon’. Seen October 4, his maiden opera-house voyage yielded a work of admirable clarity and undeniable potency. Schwartz’s adaptation is tightly plotted and adroitly scored; the composer strives for – and largely achieves – a psychological thriller of visceral impact. Director Scott Schwartz effectively staged the action on Heidi Ettinger’s marvel of a set – a revolving Victorian house of semi-transparent Lucite walls evocatively lit by David Lander with smart costumes by Alejo Vietti. Valéry Ryvkin conducted a well-cast ensemble [that] lavished tremendous dedication on the work. Lauren Flanigan gave a brilliant performance as Myra, blending vocal vibrancy and poignant fragility with luminous results.”
    – Georgia Rowe / Opera News
  • “In crafting his first opera, “Seance on a Wet Afternoon,” Stephen Schwartz combines everything he knows about Broadway songwriting and Hollywood scoring with a lyrical streak rarely seen from the composer. Those gifts beautifully serve this quirkily Freudian ghost story. If Schwartz isn’t exactly breaking new ground here, his assured, evocative melodies offer an oasis of melody and meaning. Heidi Ettinger’s marvelous multilevel representation of the Foster dwelling spins in either direction to afford multiple perspectives, and transparent walls are suitable for ghostly drop-bys. Throughout, David Lander’s lights exploit the ominous overlaps between the normal and paranormal, picking up the surrounding floor-to-ceiling silver-beaded curtains simultaneously evoking a gypsy’s doorway and the shimmering, saddening rain.”
    – Bob Verini / Variety
  • “Stephen Schwartz and Opera Santa Barbara have pulled off the season’s first major coup with this world premiere… Boldly beautiful in its conception and staging, ‘Séance on a Wet Afternoon’ takes audiences on a wild, suspenseful ride. Maestro Ryvkin and his orchestra gave Schwartz’s gorgeous score a splendid reading and all the major roles were sung with gusto. Heidi Ettinger’s truly magical sets nearly stole the show. The two-story home was a fantastic mindspace that alternated from opaque to transparent, spun and lit up in a variety of configurations, with enormous beaded curtains suggesting drops of San Francisco rain at one moment, and the hazy boundary between the living and the dead at another… This Séance is a must-see.”
    – Charles Donelan / SB Independent

Direction

Stephen Schwartz

Stephen Schwartz

Scott Schwartz

Scott Schwartz

Valéry Ryvkin

Valéry Ryvkin

Heidi Ettinger

Heidi Ettinger

David Lander

David Lander

Alejo Vietti

Alejo Vietti

Matt Williams

Matt Williams

Michael Jackowitz

Michael Jackowitz

Artists

Lauren Flanigan

Lauren Flanigan

Kim Josephson

Kim Josephson

Hila Plitmann

Hila Plitmann

John Kimberling

John Kimberling

Craig Hart

Craig Hart

Aaron Refvem

Aaron Refvem

Kelsey Lee Smith

Kelsey Lee Smith

Michael Marcotte

Michael Marcotte

Jane Shaulis

Jane Shaulis

Caroline Worra

Caroline Worra

Benjamin Brecher

Benjamin Brecher

Benjamin Brecher, tenor, has performed over fifty operatic roles and sung with over fifty symphonies throughout the world. He has performed over ten roles with The New York City Opera beginning in 1997, specializing in the bel canto opera repertoire. Other performances include: Santa Fe Opera, Opera de Montreal, Opera de Nice, and Glimmerglass Opera, among others. On the concert stage, he has sung with the orchestras of Chicago, Chautauqua, Mexico City, Rome, Seattle, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Budapest, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Toronto Symphony Milwaukee, and the National Symphony at Kennedy Center to mention a few. 2015-2016 will bring: Beethoven’s Ninth in Santa Rosa, Carmina Burana with Florida Symphony, Holiday ‘Pops’ concerts with The Jacksonville Symphony, along with the role of Gerald in Lakmé in Fresno and the world Premiere performances of Shot! A World Changed, an opera about the assassination of President McKinley in Buffalo. Also in 2015 his tenth commercial CD will be released, “Forgotten Liszt”, with Robert Koenig, pianist. The recording will include five world premiere recordings of lost Liszt songs and other of his rare works along a tour of recitals in Fresno, Modesto, Long Beach, and in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen Scotland. Professor Brecher is an Associate Professor at UCSB.

Bray Wilkins

Bray Wilkins

Location

Cast & Credits

Direction
Composer:

Stephen Schwartz

Stage Director:

Scott Schwartz

Conductor:

Valéry Ryvkin

Set Design:

Heidi Ettinger

Lighting Design:

David Lander

Lighting Design:

Alejo Vietti

Choreographer:

Matt Williams

Executive Producer:

Michael Jackowitz

Artists
Myra Foster:

Lauren Flanigan

Bill Foster:

Kim Josephson

Mrs. Clayton:

Hila Plitmann

Mr. Clayton:

John Kimberling

Inspector Watts:

Craig Hart

Arthur:

Aaron Refvem

Adriana:

Kelsey Lee Smith

Irish Tenor/Mr. Bennett:

Michael Marcotte

Mrs. Wintry:

Jane Shaulis

Miss Rose:

Caroline Worra

Mr. Cole:

Benjamin Brecher

Benjamin Brecher, tenor, has performed over fifty operatic roles and sung with over fifty symphonies throughout the world. He has performed over ten roles with The New York City Opera beginning in 1997, specializing in the bel canto opera repertoire. Other performances include: Santa Fe Opera, Opera de Montreal, Opera de Nice, and Glimmerglass Opera, among others. On the concert stage, he has sung with the orchestras of Chicago, Chautauqua, Mexico City, Rome, Seattle, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Budapest, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Toronto Symphony Milwaukee, and the National Symphony at Kennedy Center to mention a few. 2015-2016 will bring: Beethoven’s Ninth in Santa Rosa, Carmina Burana with Florida Symphony, Holiday ‘Pops’ concerts with The Jacksonville Symphony, along with the role of Gerald in Lakmé in Fresno and the world Premiere performances of Shot! A World Changed, an opera about the assassination of President McKinley in Buffalo. Also in 2015 his tenth commercial CD will be released, “Forgotten Liszt”, with Robert Koenig, pianist. The recording will include five world premiere recordings of lost Liszt songs and other of his rare works along a tour of recitals in Fresno, Modesto, Long Beach, and in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen Scotland. Professor Brecher is an Associate Professor at UCSB.

Policeman:

Bray Wilkins

Seance on a Wet Afternoon, September/October 2009, Photo by David Bazemore