A Theatrical Phoenix is Beginning to Fly- a Brief History. It took wing in New York as a staged reading. This was at the oldest summer vocal training camp in America: The Seagle Music Colony. Our singers had won auditions with the New York Metropolitan Opera. Other prominent opera companies were represented. Among the people who have tested their work at Seagle have been Stephen Schwartz and Pulitzer Prize winners. Patra is now scheduled in Sarasota.
We have been riding on a phoenix for this experience. Our opera, entitled Patra, has “Wings of Song”. This new opus emphasizes the importance of meaningful and healthy relationships between men and women. The show highlights rulers of two great empires, Rome and Egypt. For Egypt we have Cleopatra; for Rome, we have Octavian. He, through Patra’s influence, decides to become the future Augustus Caesar.
Theatrical Phoenix is Scheduled for Sarasota
Sarasota is famous for opera. A marquee, only, from the Sarasota Opera House is pictured below and to the right. . Our new opera, however, will be presented in concert version at The Glenridge Performing Arts center. Immediately above/right is a photo of the setting . We will even have a professional “snake” dance. Our dancer also portrays the Egyptian goddess, Aset.
Our first staged concert was at the Westcoast Black Theater in Sarasota
The story of Octavian and Cleopatra has its own thrust. It is an engaging opera comique. Sharon, as the librettist, not only offers a cornucopia of hope in this lifetime; but also gives ancient instructions on how to be reborn to a high position. Make your reservations at The Glenridge Performing Arts Center today. Contact info is on featured picture.
Song Without Words Can Stand on its Own. It certainly has in the past. Witness the musical compositions of Felix Mendelssohn.
If you ask me what I had in mind when I wrote it, I would say: just the song as it is. And if I happen to have certain words in mind for one or another of these songs, I would never want to tell them to anyone. This is because the same words never mean the same things to others: Only the song can say the same thing. Such songs can arouse the same feelings in one person as in another. Words cannot express this feeling.
Songs Without Words, German Lieder ohne Worte, collection of 48 songs written for solo piano rather than voice by Felix Mendelssohn. Part of the collection—consisting of 36 songs—was published in six volumes during the composer’s lifetime. Two further volumes—with 12 more songs—were published after Mendelssohn’s death in 1847.
Felix Mendelssohn, painting by Wilhelm Hensel.Photos.com/Getty Images…………………………………………………………..
A Song Without Words – Can it Stand on its own Today?
Certainly, there are some affirmative examples. But the music to much of what is written today is circular and repetitive. In computer terms you could say the music “loops”. Repetition of the the same three notes over and over to simplistic lyrics or single words is the style. Basically I feel that what much of the music industry markets today is the image of the “composer.” The archetype example, in my opinion is found in the movie, The Producers.
YouTube – Feb 17, 2016
A gun-wielding Franz confronts Max and Leo, accusing them of breaking the “Siegfried Oath“. He is partially angered over the continual used of the word “baby” in the musical lyrics by the star in the cast.
I Write in the Song Without Words Form
Fortunately, I am married to my own lyricist. What a convenient source for words. We are producing a concert version with dance of our New York tested opera, Patra. It was presented as a staged reading by the American Center for New Works Development. Date of the Sarasota performance is March 23 at the Glenridge Performing Arts Center in Sarasota, Fl. Reserve your tickets today.
Opera Comique In Two Acts – By Sharon and David Ohrenstein
Patra Workshop to debut in New York. Patra is the shorter name for Cleopatra. Queen of Egypt, she was one of the most famous women in history. Her full name was Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator (69 BC – 12 August 30 BC). She was the last of the Pharaohs set up in Egypt by Alexander the Great. By descent, she was a Macedonian Princess. It will appear off book in the workshop. Our singers will literally be top notch. My wife, Sharon is the librettist and a co-composer of Patra. . I, husband David, am also a composer. Before going to NY, it will have a staged concert presentation. This will be in Sarasota Fl at the newly built Sarasota Westcoast Black Theater. Our casts in both NY and Fla are busy rehearsing. Here’s the gist:
Cleopatra had stopped the onslaught of two invading Roman generals through love. She thus neutralized the worst effects of their invasions by marrying the generals. Patra had children with each. They were, first, Julius Caesar and later Marc Antony.
Enter Octavian, a third Roman invader. She almost stops his aggression through love. In order to save her children, she follows the way of the warrior: An honorable death. If she she married Octavian and moved to Rome, both her and her children would have been seen as a threat to the Roman triumvirate. Our opera features Patra and Octavian’s encounter. In the opera she convinces him to become Augustus Caesar- 1st emperor of Rome Later, as a result, he honors her by placing a statue of her in the Temple of Venus in Rome. The statue was displayed exemplifying her as the good mother.
Patra has memorable melodies, Latin rhythms and most important – a gripping story. Sample our music on Patraopera.com.
See PATRA in Sarasota before it goes to New York !!
Presented in Sarasota for One Night Only
Before heading to New York in September, our new opera PATRA will be presented as a concert reading in Sarasota. The complete opera will be presented on Fri. July 19 at the new Westcoast Black Theatre at 6:30 pm.
The New York Workshop
PATRA has been selected for a fully-staged professional workshop in upstate New York at the Seagle Music Colony in Schroon Lake. The American Center for New Works Development at Seagle has work shopped pieces by many award-winning writers like Stephen Schwartz, Mark Adamo, Kevin Putts and more.
Patra Workshop – the Story
PATRA is loosely based on Cleopatra’s final days. When the villainous Octavian dangles a marriage proposal before Cleopatra, she hopes to secure a future for herself and her children. Yet, things do not go as he planned. Cleopatra’s love challenges Octavian and transforms him into a new man. PATRA has five singing roles. Our great Sarasota cast is listed below.
Writer, co-composer, librettist states: “When I began the eleven month rewrite of our more tragic Octavian & Cleopatra, I wanted to lighten the work and give it a popular bent. I cut two singing roles and added a dancer. Then, I infused comedy, lively dance rhythms, a small amount of spoken dialogue and a surprise at every turn. Most of all, I showcased the singer. I did something rather unusual in any musical or opera I created numerous dramatic moments where the instrumental accompaniment is silent. Only singing voices are heard.”
PATRA is an opera comique: It uses techniques from Bizet’s Carmen and Bernstein’s The West Side Story. .
Patra Concert Presentation
The WBTT concert has a $20 suggested donation ticket price to be paid at the door. For an advance reserved seat visit GoFundMe.com/PatraOpera, make a donation and in the notes write WBTT ticket. Westcoast Black Theatre is located at 1012 N Orange Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236.
Libretto by Sharon Ohrenstein
Music by David Ohrenstein and Sharon Ohrenstein
Our terrific Sarasota CAST
Kathryn Parks as Cleopatra, Joseph Ryan as Octavian, Carole Cornman as Iras, Robyn Rocklein as Charmian, and Baron Garriott as Marcellus. Pianist Teresa O’Connell will accompany the shows.
Dancer Vanessa Russo, currently based in Sarasota, has been hired for the New York Patra workshop workshop. Only singers will be performing in Sarasota.
Background for the Patra Workshop: About Ohrenstein and Ohrenstein
Musical theater writers and performers, Sharon and David Ohrenstein have performed internationally from Canada to Honduras. Their musicals, Octavian and Cleopatra, Our Golda, and Elizabeth of Russia have been produced in Florida and New York to remarkable reviews. Sharon was honored to be chosen an Amazing Woman of the Suncoast by ABC 7. David’s chamber compositions for wind ensembles and larger works for concert band have had world premieres in New York, Ontario, Ohio and Florida. David just finished his tenth season at the Gasparilla Inn where he plays for U.S. presidents and other dignitaries. For more information visit Patraopera.com. Here is an internal link to a ballet I, David, wrote: Zodiac Dance Demonstrates Extremes from Ballet to Modern
Traditional Employment includes types of people and places. Any new year is a time for reflection: What happened or didn’t happen last year? What might happen this year? Since this new year (2019) is about to begin, I thought I’d reflect on previous jobs. I seem to have a predilection for working with: (1) Successful older people. (2) Spectacular older places. By traditional I refer to: (1) Great places built over 100 years ago. Or, (2) Successful men who, at the time, were old enough to be my grandfather or possibly great-grandfather at the time of employment.
Traditional Employment by Rubinoff and His Violin
I learned the musical craft of arranging and accompanying from Rubinoff. He conducted the Paramount Theater in New York and Paramount Pictures in Hollywood. What a perfectionist! After working for 8 hours during the day, at night he’d change his mind. The next day we did a different 16 bars. Dave’s Stradivarius violin was purchased for $100,000.00 in 1929. He made about $500,000.00 annually in the 1930′ by conducting and performing. It seemed like the “His Violin” was his marriage contract with music.
Traditional Employment at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House
For better than 15 summer seasons I played piano for shows at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House in Deposit, New York. The resort was born in 1869. What a wonderful time our family had. Our children literally grew up in the Catskills at Scott’s. Playing many shows as well as our own (with wife, Sharon) were part of my duties. Most recently, the cast of The Marvelous Mrs. Maiselle got to experience the same resort.
To the right, Rachel Brosnahan, winner of the award for best actress in a comedy series for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”, speaks in the press room at the 23rd annual Critics’ Choice Awards at the Barker Hangar on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018, in Santa Monica, Calif. (Jordan Strauss | Invision/AP)
My wife and I wrote a new opera comique entitled Patra. It certainly is quite traditional. Our models were Bizet’s Carmen and Bernstein’s West Side Story. We will have a full production workshop in New York at Schroon Lake scheduled for September 2019. This will be with the Seagle Music Colony. The Colony is under the artistic direction of Darren Woods and The American Center for New Works Development. Schroon Lake has quite a cultural history. Here is an internal link to this Schroon Lake’s glorious past. It inspired me to write a poem. Share if you wish.
Catskill Resort Celebration- my Home Away from Home. The Catskill Mountain Resorts are coming back. It’s possibly starting with Scott’s Oquaga Lake House. I was the Scott’s piano player for some 15 years. Oh boy, are the Catskills coming back! They have just been the background for a wagon load full of prestigious top entertainment industry awards. Some of the list is below, in blue. Immediately below is the Catskill Mountain movie trail from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Catskill Resort Celebration at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House
Als0, below the picture is link to a special interview with one of the stars: Rachel Brosnahan chats with Jimmy Fallon about the latest season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She talks about years ago Scott’s turned down the filming of Dirty Dancing. The clip at Scotts, relatively new posts, have 75,00 views.
Above, Rachel is speaking in the press room at the 23rd annual Critics’ Choice Awards. It is at the Barker Hangar. Date is Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. Location is Santa Monica, Calif. (Jordan Strauss | Invision/AP)
Yes miracles still happen. Just when everybody is ready to give the resort up, this happens. Scott’s will be featured in quite a number of episodes this coming year. I have been the piano player at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House over a span of some 15 years. Hard times hit the resort. Bus loads of people from Ontario, Canada stopped coming. This was due to higher taxes and added health insurance costs on group bus tours. A high percentage of their business was Canadian. In addition to to regular fair, Canadians loved the wilderness and seemingly magical feeling of this pristine, clear lake.
More Catskill Resort Celebration
Here is one of my my contributions to Scott’s Oquaga Lake House: As Rubinoff and His Violin’s arranger and accompanist for over 15 years, I brought Rubinoff to the resort. This was in 1984. At age 86 David Rubinoff also performed miracles. This youtube video is the only complete 44 minute+ concert of his in existence.He took America by storm in the 1930’s. Please also enjoy this rare Scott’s video as I (David Ohrenstein) accompany this “legendary” violinist. He plays his Strad. It belonged to the Czars of Russia.
Lost Concert “Rubinoff and His Violin” on Oquaga Lake, 1984 – YouTube
Last, but not least for my wife, Sharon, and myself. We wrote an opera comique entitled Patra. It will be showcased on Schroon lake in New York state this coming September of2019. The American Center for New Works Development is sponsoring it under the auspices of the Seagle Music Colony. More details on our website. DSOworks.com. Patra has a banner heading. Exact date to be announced shortly. Don’t miss this event!
New Artistic Cycle as per Rossini in 1868. His words apply to now. I thus begin this blog with the quote by opera composer, G.Rossini. It is from his letter dated June 21, 1868. It states: ” Delight must be the basis and aim of this art. Simple melody-clear rhythm.” My source is Serious Music-and All That Jazz. It was written by Henry Pleasants. He contributed articles on European musical events to The New York Times. He also wrote regularly for Opera Quarterly. He alsowas London editor for the magazine Stereo Review. He also was the London music critic for the International Herald Tribune.
I, blogger, David, just gave a concert at under the sponsorship of the Ted Lewis Museum. I am also a composer of opera. My book writer and lyricist is my wife, Sharon. Our opera, to be announced, uses melody in a big way. Rhythm, of course, must always be solid . However, in our opera it will take a back seat to memorable melodies.
Check out the internal link right below. I worked with Rubinoff for 15 years. Rubinoff and His Violin made up to $500,000.00 yearly in the 1930’s. His secret was playing beautiful melody better than anyone else. Yes, “There’s gold in them thar hills”
Pleasants relates a 2nd applicable quote. Joseph Addison wrote the following the The Spectator. It is dated April 3, 1711: ...Taste is not to conform to the art, but art to the taste. The public is longing for what is beautiful. As stated in the lyrics found in the musical ‘ Ain’t Misbehavin:
Find out what they like, and how they like it, and let him have it just that way Give them what they want, and when they want it, without a single word to say
Writing Operas- Hassles Even for Mozart. Writing an opera is difficult. Writing an outstanding opera is more difficult. Finding a good composer/ librettist combination is rare. Raising funds for the work is is extremely difficult. Procuring a venue for a production of a new opera is a a huge task. That is why perpetual old opera war horses will continue to be the mainstay of traditional, established opera houses. Aspiring composers of opera face at least one to all of these hurdles. That certainly was true for Mozart. Mozart had the contacts. He had the admiration of wealthy royalty. His problem, at least at first, was finding a good librettist with which he could collaborate.
I’m lucky enough. to own the book pictured on the right. It is autographed by Victor Borge. The inspiration for this blog came from his book. Royalty in Europe fostered opera. Mozart was quite a charmer in this regard. As a young boy, he was fussed over by every emperor he met and kissed by their empress wives. He even proposed to Marie Antoinette. This was after she straightened him out from a skid on the palace floor.
So how does a child charm, royalty? Mozart used the technique of novelty. He would play the pianoforte using one finger on each hand. He would cover the piano keyboard with a napkin and perform. He would ask his royal backers to hum a tune. They he make an entire sonata on the “hum”. He would freely improvise variations on a theme. Yet even with the royal support of limitless funding, there were problems. You still needed a good libretto.
Here is an example of Mozart’s libretto problems: He wrote an opera for La Finta Semplice. It’s about a Hungarian captain whose sister makes love to his girlfriend’s brother. As a result, the girlfriend’s maid can marry the captain’s valet. This needs to happen without the captain’s girlfriend’s other brother finding out. As crazy as this is, it still made it to the stage. Today, I think that a rich person can buy their way to a full production. But, odds of overall success are even more remote.
The feature picture of the ghosts of Caesar and Anthony in the above internal link is from our new opera. It is now called, Patra. It was called Octavian and Cleopatra. Another name it went by was The Cup of Cleopatra. Now, the opera is undergoing a major rewrite. This is no small task. However, I do have one great advantage: Everyday I have breakfast with my librettist. She is my wife, Sharon. Everything is coming together for a workshop in upstate New York 2019. We are looking for backers. Click on the picture below to sample some of the earlier productions. They might pique you interest. Contact email@example.com if you are interested in assisting.