Prof. Scott Perkins premieres new opera at Kennedy Center in nation's capital

Thursday, November 15, 2012
Scott Perkins

On Monday, Nov. 19, members of the Washington National Opera's Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program will present the world premiere of a short chamber opera composed by Scott Perkins, the DePauw University School of Music's newly appointed assistant professor of music theory and composition.

The one-act opera "Charon," with a libretto by Nat Cassidy, was one of three works commissioned from composer-librettist teams across the nation for the first season of the WNO's American Opera Initiative.

The sold-out performance, which will be followed by a question-and-answer session with the artists, will take place at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Perkins and Cassidy's allegorical opera features bass Soloman Howard as the title character, the ferryman who transports the souls of the dead across the River Styx.

After repeating this morose, interminable task for thousands of years, "Charon" is almost too distracted by his exhaustion to notice that the world beyond is changing in ways that will affect even a creature such as himself.

Last month, as part of the commission, the composers, librettists, and singers participated in a week of workshops led by composer Jake Heggie, librettist Mark Campbell, and conductor Anne Manson. (at left: the Kennedy Center)

Perkins, who earned his Ph.D. last year at the Eastman School of Music, comes to DePauw from Central Connecticut State University, where he taught courses in music theory and musicianship. His music, which also includes art songs, musical theatre, solo instrumental works, choral music, electroacoustic media, and music for film and church, has been performed throughout North America and Europe.

The judges who awarded him a BMI Student Composer Award described Perkins's winning work as "a dramatic and strikingly beautiful example of ... writing which speaks to the heart as well as to the mind."

Professor Perkins has collaborated with musical and non-musical artists, including Tony Award-winning playwrights, Emmy-winning filmmakers, and prize-winning poets. In one of his more recent musical endeavors, Perkins worked with Sir Peter Shaffer (Equus, Amadeus), while composing a score for the author's play, The Gift of the Gorgon. Performed at Guild Hall in East Hampton, New York, the play was directed by Tony Walton and starred Alec Baldwin.

Founded in 1884, the DePauw University School of Music is one of the nation's oldest private institutions for post-secondary music instruction and the longest-running in Indiana.

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