Taking photos of operas can be a tricky business. No one is posing and rushing back and forth to get the perfect photo is rarely possible. Then there is the theater lighting: the performers must be in a visually interesting light to make a good picture. I have chosen photos of several opera performances for this website that I feel are camera worthy. All are of productions by the Center for Contemporary Opera except forAbelard and Heloise, which was a production of the Charlotte Opera.

Alice in Wonderland by Peter Westergaard, who composed the music and wrote the libretto, was a visual delight depicting the fantastic creatures in Lewis Carroll’s famous story. Peter, retired Professor of Music at Princeton University and prolific opera composer, had approached me to produce his opera and, as Peter wished to use a conductor who had conducted all of his previous operas, I had the opportunity to be present at all rehearsals with my camera in hand. The production was performed in New York City and at Princeton University. It was recorded and is available from Albany Records.

Jekyll and Hyde was a totally different situation. The performance was part of an opera development program where scenes from operas were presented partly staged and with piano accompaniment. This opera was given at the cell, an intimate performance space where I could not move around to take photographs. The lighting was rudimentary and often insufficient for photography so the camera had to be pushed to its limits creating grainy pictures. Nevertheless I was able to get a photo of both Dr. Jekyll taking the poison and of Mr. Hyde.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by composer John Eaton with a libretto by his daughter Estela is a musical representation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous story. The photo here is of Benjamin’s birth with the body of an old man which got younger and younger as his years advanced. The recording is available from Albany Records.

The Secret Agent by Michael Dellaira and J.D. McClatchy was based on the story by Joseph Conrad of the failed attempt to bomb the Greenwich Observatory in London in 1894, a story of urban terrorism. The production played in New York, in Szeged in Hungary where it was broadcast all over Europe and in Avignon in France. It was one of the Center for Contemporary Opera’s proudest achievements.

The story of the Center for Contemporary Opera in pictures and text may be ordered from Blurb.com or obtained by contacting me at jrichardmarshall@gmail.com. The 207 page book, CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY OPERA: Thirty Years and Counting, contains my photos taken over a thirty year period with the company which I founded in 1982