University of Hartford "H" Magazine - Winter 2019

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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Abel: Home Is A Harbor

11/26/2017 1:00 pm
11/26/2017 4:30 pm


Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

Our American Thanksgiving holiday is part of a long tradition of autumnal harvest home feasting throughout European civilization. The focus in so many of these harvest feasts is upon the home and homecoming to that special beloved place of one’s origins. With that in mind, I’m pleased to present, as my operatic reflection upon Thanksgiving 2017, Mark Abel’s opera in three acts Home Is a Harbor (2015).

In his note for its world premiere recording for the American Delos label, the composer writes, “Home Is a Harbor, my first opera, is a portrait of contemporary America. Its points of entry are the experiences of twin sisters from California’s bucolic and lightly populated central Coast, which has managed to maintain a more grounded and traditional lifestyle than the technology-obsessed Bay Area and stressed-out fraying-at-the-edges Los Angeles. The girls’ journeys following high school pull them out into the swifter currents of the so-called ‘real world’ - where they encounter early success, the financial crisis, the human cost of the war in Afghanistan, the emptiness of some of their peers, and the restrictions on personal growth imposed by their chosen professions. Set in bicoastal locales and roughly covering the years between 2005 and 2011, the piece is a sort of ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ closing serenely with a return to the sisters’ hometown of Morro Bay and a vow to aid the area’s homeless veterans.”

Morro Bay is the harbor town of Home Is a Harbor for which composer Mark Abel (b. 1948) wrote both music and libretto. This is a chamber opera, scored for a small instrumental ensemble and seven singing voices. Benjamin Makino conducts the LaBrea Sinfonietta. Home Is a Harbor was recorded in studio in Glendale and Sherman Oaks, California, as produced by the composer himself. The Delos record label is based in Sonoma, CA.

After listening to Home Is a Harbor, stay tuned for Abel’s song cycle The Palm Trees Are Restless (2014), settings of five poems of Kate Gale. Featured in this world premiere recording of the songs is soprano Hila Plitmann.