In 2017 West Edge Opera presented scenes from HOWARDS END, AMERICA by Allen Shearer on a libretto by Claudia Stevens on its “Snapshot” series. It was a success with audience and critics alike: “The libretto masterfully adapts the E.M. Forster story. Howards End, America‘s dynamic orchestra score – deliriously swelling sound-masses and well-developed musical themes help each singer come into his character.” (San Francisco Classical Voice, March 1, 2017). Read the full review here.
Read another review in Repeat Performances by Jaime Robles here.
Previous work: Shearer and Stevens’ recent opera Middlemarch in Spring was named one of the top 10 operatic events of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle and one of Encyclopedia Britannica’s most noteworthy new musical works of 2015. Here’s what reviewers wrote:
“A rare triumph for a new opera . . a work of uncanny mastery. –Janos Gereben, San Francisco Examiner
“Composer Allen Shearer and librettist Claudia Stevens deftly mined George Eliot’s novel for a sunny, ingratiating and altogether effective piece of musical theater.” –Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle
“A fine adaptation of Middlemarch which is also a work of originality and charm. —The George Eliot Review.
Facts at a Glance:
What: HOWARDS END, AMERICA, a new chamber opera
Who: Composed by Allen Shearer, libretto by Claudia Stevens
Based on E. M. Forster’s novel Howards End Conducted by Mary Chun, directed by Philip Lowery
Presented by Earplay in partnership with RealOpera
When: February 22-24, 2019
Friday and Saturday Evenings at 8:00 pm; Sunday Matinee at 2:00 pm
Where: Z_Space, 450 Florida Street, San Francisco
How much: General admission, $40; students, seniors, disabled persons, and groups of 8 or more, $25.
Run Time: 2 hours, plus one intermission
How to buy: Watch this space for purchase link (under construction); or at the Z Space box office beginning one hour before the show.
Briefly: In its first-ever adaptation for opera, Howards End has found an American voice. Allen Shearer and Claudia Stevens, creators of the acclaimed Middlemarch in Spring, now bring you the premiere of a bold new opera HOWARDS END, AMERICA. The unforgettable characters of the book and Oscar-winning film take on new life, transported to our own shores. Can the lovely, generous Margaret forgive her husband Henry for his sordid relationship with club singer Jacky? Will Charles get away with manslaughter? And what will become of Leonard, a young black poet who courts disaster in a love affair with rich society girl Helen? In a gripping tale of illicit love, racial conflict and real estate set in Boston of the 1950’s, this is a story about us! Don’t miss it!
Press contact: Susan Thieme
Here is an excerpt from West Edge Opera Director Mark Streshinsky in conversation with Claudia Stevens about developing Howards End as an opera. And below, Allen Shearer and Claudia Stevens talk about their collaboration in lead-up to the 2017 Snapshot preview by West Edge Opera.