For its fifth production, Pasadena Opera presents the Los Angeles premiere of Proving Up, an 80-minute chamber opera by one of the world’s most sought after and exciting creative teams: composer Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek. Based on the short story by Karen Russell, Proving Up tells the tale of Americans in Nebraska trying to gain title to their land under the provisions of the Homestead Act of 1862. Staged at the intimate Boston Court stage in Pasadena, 70 N Mentor Avenue, performances will take place at 8pm on Friday and Saturday, January 17 & 18; 24 & 25, 2020. This production is part of L.A. Opera’s Eurydice Found festival, celebrating new works that explore this ancient myth. https://www.laopera.org/community/eurydice-found/.
Proving Up tells the story of the Zegner family, pioneers in 1870s Nebraska, who have finally met all five conditions of the Homestead Act, including securing a coveted glass window. Rumor has it that there’s an inspector close by, and, in an act of uncommon generosity, Ma and Pa Zegner send their youngest son, Miles, to a neighboring farm to share their good fortune. But where did the window come from? What price did Pa pay for it? The family has already lost two daughters, whose voices return from beyond the grave to comment on the cost. And when Miles meets the inspector, things don’t go as planned. This spooky ghost story is a fitting allegory for many contemporary American families who are learning the hard way that desire and hard work do not guarantee the attainment of the American Dream.
The New York Times hailed Proving Up at its 2018 premiere: “Ms. Mazzoli conjures bleakness with an uncanny, confident mixture of instrumental savagery and eerie lightness.” And the Washington Post said Ms. Mazzoli “continues to show herself a natural opera composer.”
Cast members: soprano Julia Metzler (Ma), baritone Daniell Cilli (Pa), tenor Jonathan Smucker (Miles), and Valerian Ruminski (the Sodbuster). The production team also includes Lighting Designer Andrew Schmedake, Set Designer Lex Gernon, Costume Designer Linda Muggeridge and Production and Stage Manager Taylor Carnes.