Music by Thomas Pasatieri
Libretto by Daphne Malfitano

About The Family Room

We find two nameless women living in a windowless studio. Their surroundings are equal parts homey and derelict: a fridge bearing moldy cheese; a single, stained futon; and a treasured, but unexplained baby doll. One woman writes continually in a diary, weaving narrative as though recording their daily lives. However, the stories are of dinner parties and relatives, of husbands and love and a child named Georgie. The women discuss these “plans” of Thanksgiving supper at a beautifully set table surrounded by loved ones, while they lay mismatched silverware against the rickety tabletop in their dilapidated nest. They speak of family, but their only company are ominous sounds from above. There is life up there, but we are stuck as they are, beneath it, in The Family Room.

Thomas Pasatieri's musical style is rooted in romanticism, employing elements of both bel canto lyricism and verismo declamation. The Family Room is scored for two sopranos and an ensemble of 14 instruments. Running ninety minutes in one act, it wrings an emotional impact on the audience involving them in the horrors and fantasies of two women trapped in a desperate situation with fatal consequences.

About the Creators

Thomas Pasatieri composed and wrote the libretto for his first opera, The Trysting Place, while an undergraduate at Juilliard. His first staged opera was The Women, a one-act work based on an original story. It premiered at the 1965 Aspen Festival and won the composition contest for that year. Among his 22 operas are La Divina (1966), Padrevia (1967), Black Widow (1972), The Trial of Mary Lincoln (1972), Signor Deluso (1974), Washington Square (1976), Before Breakfast (1980), Three Sisters (1986), and his best known work, The Seagull (1972), which received its world premiere recording in 2003 (Albany Records).

In addition to his sizeable opera catalogue, Mr. Pasatieri has composed hundreds of songs and is a prolific composer for chorus. Among his instrumental works are: Invocation, commissioned and premiered by Leonard Slatkin and the New York Youth Symphony (1968); Theatrepieces, for Clarinet, Violin and Piano (1987); Concerto for Piano and Strings (1994); Sonata for Viola and Piano (1995); Quartet for Flute and Strings (1995); Sonata for Flute and Piano (1997); Windsong, recorded by Trio Ariana (2001); and three piano sonatas.

In 2007, Mr. Pasatieri made his highly-anticipated return to opera with the premieres of two new works. Frau Margot, an opera in three acts, commissioned by the Fort Worth Opera, and the two-act comic opera, The Hotel Casablanca, with a libretto by the composer, premiered by the San Francisco Opera Center Merola Singers. Recent works include Lady Macbeth and The Daughter of Capulet, two concert monodramas taken from the Shakespeare plays, and two instrumental works: Rhapsody for Double bass and Piano and Concerto for Harpsichord. His Christmas opera God Bless Us, Every One! (based on Dickens) premiered December 2010 in New York. FULL BIO AND LIST OF WORKS

Daphne Malfitano was born in New York City, but has spent her life throughout Europe and the United States. From the age of four she worked as a professional actor, and trained at the LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts, as well as the Lee Strasberg school, the Steppenwolf school, and the Piven theatre. She excelled in Creative Writing as a student, but only shifted her focus to writing in her early 20s. Since then she has studied novel writing at NYU and playwriting at Stony Brook Southampton under the instruction of Emily Mann, where she was awarded the 2010 Playwriting prize. She has written two full-length plays, Ballad for the Obsolete, and A Good Man, as well as a one-act, Paternus. She currently lives in Brooklyn and is working on both a novel, and her newest full-length play. 

About the Artists

Named by TIME Magazine as "the thinking man's diva" and awarded by ACSAP and the Center for Contemporary Opera for her commitment to performing the works of living composers, soprano Lauren Flanigan has firmly established herself as a unique musical presence in the world today. She has been featured on the telecast "Live from Lincoln Center" in performances of I Lombardi (opposite Luciano Pavarotti), The Richard Tucker Gala, Lizzie Borden and Central Park which was written for her. She has performed at many of the world’s leading opera houses including La Scala, Teatro San Carlo, Bayerische Staatsoper, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera. With American Opera Projects, she created the starring role in the premiere of Marina: A Captive Spirit by Deborah Drattell, and a workshop of Best Friends, by Mrs Drattell with a libretto by Wendy Wasserstein/Christopher Durang. She most recently performed at New York City Opera the role of Myra written for her by Stephen Schwartz in Seance on a Wet Afternoon, developed by American Opera Projects.

Recordings include: Symphony No. 6 Plutonian Ode written for her by Philip Glass, Good Night Moon written for her by Glen Roven, The Cabildo, Merrymount , Peter Ibbetson, Die Liebe der Danae, Appendage, Sun Cantata, Frau Margot and Monologues all written for her by Thomas Pasatieri. DVD’s include Nabucco from Teatro San Carlo and the motion picture Death to Smoochy where she appears as the Ice Skating Opera Diva.

Catherine Malfitano, singer, actor, director and teacher, was born in New York City to a dancer/actress mother, and violinist father. Throughout her singing career she has been celebrated as a unique theatre performer, acclaimed for her commanding vocalism, elegant stage presence, and riveting dramatic abilities. She has worked with the most prestigious conductors and stage directors in over 70 roles and 1,400 performances on all of the world’s leading opera house stages. Equally devoted to the traditional and contemporary repertoire alike, she has starred in nine world premieres by Conrad Susa (Transformations), Carlisle Floyd (Bilby's Doll), Thomas Pasatieri (The Black Widow, The Seagull, Washington Square), and William Bolcom (McTeague, View from the Bridge, A Wedding, Medusa). She has also sung in the great classic contemporary operas of Berg, Shostakovich, Janacek, Menotti, Schreker, Blitzstein, Poulenc, Argento, Weill, Barber, Strauss, Ward, and Henze. Her Emmy-award winning portrayal of Tosca, broadcast live from the actual Roman settings of the opera, was seen by more than one billion viewers worldwide.

Since 2005 Malfitano has embarked on a directing career. Next season she will be directing new productions for the Lyric Opera of Chicago (Lucia), English National Opera (Tosca), and Canadian Opera Company (Double Bill of Zemlinsky's Florentine Tragedy and Puccini's Gianni Schicchi).

Since 1998 Ms. Malfitano has been teaching privately, giving masterclasses world wide as well as her own special course entitled Revealing the ActorSinger Within. She joined the Voice Faculty at the Manhattan School of Music in the Fall of 2008.

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Photo Gallery


    Opera workshop review: "Opera New Jersey in Princeton: 'Family Room,' 'Consul,' 'Barber of Seville'"
  • July 18, 2011 - NJ STAR-LEDGER
    Opera workshop review: "Opera New Jersey's dramatic double bill: "The Consul" and "The Family Room""
  • July 18, 2011 - NJ STAR-LEDGER
    Opera profile: "'Family' dynamics: Thomas Pasatieri's new opera, 'The Family Room,' is a mystery drama written for two great sopranos"

AOP Presentations

July 23 & 24, 2011
The Berlind Theater
McCarter Theatre Center
91 University Place
Princeton, NJ 08540
Staged reading of opera
Presented by Opera New Jersey in association with American Opera Projects
Performances by Lauren Flanigan and Catherine Malfitano
Directed by Scott Schwartz

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