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This project was successfully funded on October 25, 2017

UrbanArias records PAUL'S CASE

by Robert Wood


Composer Gregory Spears and co-librettist Kathryn Walat developed PAUL'S CASE, based on the classic 1905 short story by Willa Cather, at American Opera Projects.  It had its world premiere at Urban Arias in 2013. That production and cast went to the Prototype Festival in New York City where it was cited by Alex Ross of the New Yorker as one of the notable performances of 2014 "The tenor Jonathan Blalock was transfixing in the title role; Spears’s score glistened beautifully and eerily around him."

Urban Arias, DC's contemporary opera company, is reuniting the world premiere cast and conductor to record this important 21st-century opera. We produce high-quality short, contemporary opera, and have garnered excellent reviews since our founding eight years ago.  We are hoping this is our first of many recordings of contemporary vocal works; any additional funds received will go toward these future efforts.

PAUL'S CASE examines the life of an unsatisfied Pittsburgh dandy who longs for a life of the theater, music, and luxury-- a longing which will eventually destroy him. Cather's story, a rumination on desire, love, and self-expression, has been adapted to the world of Opera-- the very world which Paul loved so dearly.

Gregory Spears was cited by WQXR as one of "Top 5 Buzzed-About Young American Opera Composers".  His music is lyrical and beautiful; in particular, he has a great fondness for an almost Baroque vocal style, which highlights the stilted nature of the characters’ relationships to each other – Paul’s father does not understand him, nor do his teachers; Paul’s chance encounter with a college student from Yale, which might have led to a friendship, is undermined by their mutual discovery that they are too similar to really like each other. As an undercurrent to the stylish and stylized vocal writing, Spears pleases the ear with a relatively simple, almost minimalistic harmonic palette, appropriately jarred by dissonance when the drama demands it. The overarching musical effect of the piece is to be deceptively easy on the ear – but as the opera draws to its inexorable conclusion, we feel the accumulated power of Spears’ craft.

Thank you for your consideration to help fund our recording.