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This summer, Opera Saratoga premieres a new chamber version of David T. Little and Royce Vavrek’s opera Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera.

David T. Little has composed a new chamber version of his 2009–2010 opera Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera. The new version—which was commissioned by Opera Saratoga and features six singers accompanied by flute, clarinet, piano, and five string players—receives its world premiere on June 30 as part of the company’s 2018 Summer Festival, with additional performance dates through July 14. The production is conducted by David Alan Miller and directed by Michael Hidetoshi Mori.

The 40-minute opera was created with longtime collaborator Royce Vavrek, who produced the librettos for Little’s acclaimed operas JFK and Dog Days. Vinkensport is a bitter-sweet comedy in one act that explores obsession, desire, and the need to win through the frame of an obscure Flemish folk sport called "finch-sitting": Chaffinches and their owners are pitted against each other in a battle to be named the most melodious bird. Though a seemingly gentle competition, the contestants’ inner monologues and preparations reveal deception, deep-seated rivalries, painful loneliness, and blossoming romance.

The original version for full orchestra was commissioned by Dawn Upshaw for the Graduate Vocal Arts Program at the Bard Conservatory, where it was premiered in February of 2010. The New York Times praised the opera’s "exuberant, rhythmically vibrant score … with an infectious opening chorus" and Musical America noted its "melodically charming music … [Little’s] is a distinctive compositional voice."

Little is currently composing a new opera with Vavrek, commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera / Lincoln Center Theater new works program, and another music-theatre work Artaud in the Black Lodge with poet Anne Waldman (Beth Morrison Projects). Little and Vavrek’s grand opera JFK will receive its European premiere next season at Theater Augsburg in Germany, with seven performances between March 26 and May 18, 2019. Theater Augsburg’s brand new production is directed by Roman Hovenbitzer.

> More information about Opera Saratoga’s production of Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera http://www.operasaratoga.org/double-bill-rocking-horse-winner-and-vinkensport-or-the-finch-opera/

>  Further information on Work: Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera

Photo: Merri Cyr

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