The new chamber opera, Middlemarch in Spring, based on George Eliot's Middlemarch, by composer Allen Shearer on a libretto by Claudia Stevens, received a high-profile, critically acclaimed premiere in San Francisco in March 2015. The librettist describes the opera's genesis from initial conception of a single scene, that of Dorothea and Celia dividing the jewelry, into a two-hour opera in six scenes and two acts. The challenges in adapting, condensing, and dramatizing a novel of such breadth, richness, and complexity required composer and librettist to work in close collaboration. Stevens discusses the development of her text, working within the constraints of the operatic medium while maintaining the tone and sensibilities of Eliot's language. Certain creative liberties were necessary in order to streamline the narrative and convey the most essential and compelling aspects of the book, enabling an audience uniquely to experience Middlemarch as an opera.
A New Opera: Middlemarch in Spring
CLAUDIA STEVENS is a performance artist widely acclaimed for the unique solo plays she creates for her own performance as musician-actor. The recipient of many grants and artist residencies, she toured throughout the United States, as well as in Europe and Asia, for over two decades. In recent years Claudia turned to the creation of chamber opera as a librettist in collaboration with the Bay Area composer Allen Shearer. Their works, all successfully produced, include The Dawn Makers (2009), A Very Large Mole, after a Kafka short story (2010), Riddle Me, an opera for children (2011), and Middlemarch in Spring, which premiered in San Francisco in March 2015 to wide acclaim. Claudia holds degrees in music from Vassar College (summa cum laude), the University of California at Berkeley, and Boston University (DMA).
Claudia Stevens; A New Opera: Middlemarch in Spring. George Eliot - George Henry Lewes Studies 1 November 2015; 67 (2): 227–233. doi: https://doi.org/10.5325/georelioghlstud.67.2.0227
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