German Romantics: Clara

German Romantics: Clara

Description

What names come to mind when you think of the songs of German Romantic composers? Schumann? Mendelssohn? Schubert? If you imagine Robert, Felix, or Franz, you may want to think again. With the film series “German Romantics,” The Pleiades Project challenges how we define this group of composers by insisting that we not forget the women.

Clara Schumann (1819-1896) was a virtuosic pianist, composer, and piano pedagogue.  From the age of eleven, she maintained a sixty-one-year concert career, touring throughout Europe. Her success as a concert artist secured essential income for her family, including her husband, the renowned composer Robert Schumann (1810-1856), and their eight children. She began composing as a child, and her compositions later included solo piano pieces, chamber music, choral works and songs (or Lieder).

For German Romantics: Clara, The Pleiades Project re-conceptualizes the three Lieder of Clara’s Op. 12, originally part of a twelve-song collection jointly published by Clara and Robert to poetry by Friedrich Rückert. In 1841, soon after their marriage, Robert urged his wife to collaborate on a compositional project. Although she was initially ambivalent about composing, Clara began to work on the songs of Op. 12.

While these songs may have marked the beginning of Clara and Robert’s union, the protagonist of German Romantics: Clara navigates Op. 12 as she copes with the end of an important relationship. As she confronts the end of this chapter in her life, her imagination travels to vibrant fantasy worlds of the past. In becoming the heroine of her own story, our protagonist reaches closure and the ability to move forward.

In German Romantics: Clara, I made my film debut and served as dramaturg. For more information about Clara Schumann and Op. 12, check out my research and writing!

German Romantics: Clara – Full Version
For episodes, check out the Multimedia section below!

Performance History

German Romantics was made possible by the generous support and in collaboration with Washington-DC based opera company, IN Series

German Romantics was conceived to be watched on INVision: The Logan Opera House Without Walls.  Created in response to performance restrictions imposed by COVID-19 and embracing the opportunity to collaborate broadly and reach worldwide audiences, INVision is IN Series’ first-of-its kind multi-venue digital performing arts center dedicated to disseminating new, transformative works of operatic theater free of charge.




German Romantics: Clara was created from September to October 2020 on location in Washington DC. While making a short film during the COVID-19 pandemic was challenging, we relied upon testing, masking, virtual recording, and lip-synching to safely achieve our creative goals. By delving deeply into the Lieder of Clara Schumann, we took inspiration from her courage, artistry, and pioneering spirit. We ultimately believe that the legacy of Clara Schumann and her fellow Romantic-era women composers shape our voices as contemporary women in classical music.

Click here for more information from The Pleiades Project on series’ installments: German Romantics: Louise and German Romantics: Fanny.

Multimedia

“Liebst du um Schönheit”
from German Romantics: Clara
“Er ist gekommen”
from German Romantics: Clara
“Warum willst du and’re fragen”
from German Romantics: Clara
Queen of Hearts

Queen of Hearts

Description

Inspired by American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Love Is Not All,” Queen of Hearts is an evening of cabaret theatre that explores the many stages of romance: an initial self-questioning, a longing for human connection, the spark of deeper feelings, the pain of unrequited desire, the contentment in being loved, the rupture of a bond, and the ultimate decision to move forward wiser, but scarred.

Through storytelling and song, we explore age-old questions about love. Will I ever feel deeply loved? Am I worth loving “forever”? And when love finds me, will I be able to offer it in return?

Love is Not All (Sonnet XXX)

Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution’s power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.

Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Love is Not All” (Sonnet XXX),” from Collected Poems
Copyright 1931, 1934, 1939, © 1958 by Edna St. Vincent Millay and Norma Millay Ellis

Edna St. Vincent Millay reads “Love Is Not All”

Performance History

Queen of Hearts premiered at The Duplex Cabaret Theatre (NYC) in 2016 and was later workshopped at The Pleiades Project Launch Event. Awarded a Career Development Grant from Peabody Institute in 2017 to expand its theatrical scope, Emma and Noelle collaborated with visual artist Andrea Kleinbussink for their performance at Stillpointe Theatre (Baltimore). In 2018, Noelle and Emma performed Queen of Hearts at Areté Venue and Gallery through Inception to Exhibition (NYC).


Program Selections

STORIES

Bozrah Fairytale

Abyss

A Million Miles Away

An Arts Education

In His Own Words

The Declawed Cat

Wedding Revelers

Brian Williams

First Kiss



All stories included in Queen of Hearts were written and performed by Emma Tattenbaum-Fine.

SONGS

“Who Am I?,” from Leonard Bernstein’s Peter Pan

“The Right Guy For Me,” from Kurt Weill’s You and Me

“I Wish It So,” from Marc Blitztein’s Juno

“Love for Sale,” from Cole Porter’s The New Yorkers

“Making Love Alone” by Marilyn Miller & Cheryl Hardwich

“I’ll Follow My Secret Heart,” from Noël Coward’s Conversation Piece

Alphabet City Cycle by Georgia Stitt & Marcy Heisler

“I Loved,” from Jovannest & Rauber’s Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living In Paris

“To Oakland, With Love” by Jeanna Phillips

“Lightning Strikes” by Jeanna Phillips & Alex Thrailkill

All music included in Queen of Hearts was performed with an ASCAP Concert & Recital License Agreement.

Photo: Elizabeth Van Os

Collaborator Spotlight

Emma is a comedic actor and writer. She played Logainne in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at ACT of CT (Broadway World Nomination for “Best Ensemble”) and she returned there to do Godspell in winter of 2020, with Stephen Schwartz revising his classic for this revamped production. Emma appears in Netflix’s Explained. She’s been a joke writer for NYTW gala hosts, Broadway’s Jeremy O. Harris & Heidi Schreck and has hosted HQ Trivia live in front of millions of players internationally. She’s written several full-length scripts, and sketch and stand-up comedy for truTV, Comedy Central and Refinery29.

Emma’s upcoming book, Trash Mermaid — Essays, Stories, Recollections, Rants, and Ramblings that Came to Me by the Jersey Sea is available soon for purchase on Kindle and in print. For more of Emma’s writing, subscribe to her Substack.

Listen to examples of Emma’s storytelling here and in the Multimedia section below. Also, don’t forget to check out her audio album of stories, Commuter’s Companion, now streaming on Spotify!


Multimedia

“Sunday Light,” from Georgia Stitt’s Alphabet City Cycle
Marla by Emma Tattenbaum-Fine
Insouciant by Emma Tattenbaum-Fine
“La Diva de l’Empire” by Erik Satie
“Der genügsame Liebhaber,” from Arnold Schoenberg’s Brettl Lieder
“Almost Everything I Need,” from Georgia Stitt’s Alphabet City Cycle
“Tell Me The Truth About Love,” from Benjamin Britten’s Cabaret Songs
“Es regnet” by Kurt Weill
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u002du002drCul26CkE
Climbing the Wall by Emma Tattenbaum-Fine
“The Wanting of You,” from Georgia Stitt’s Alphabet City Cycle
“Je te veux” by Erik Satie
“I’m A Stranger Here Myself,” from Kurt Weill’s One Touch of Venus
The Inner Voices of Women in a Lingerie Store by Emma Tattenbaum-Fine
A Women’s Suffrage Splendiferous Extravaganza!

A Women’s Suffrage Splendiferous Extravaganza!

Nannie Burroughs holding banner reading, “Banner State Woman’s National Baptist Convention”
Photo: Library of Congress (1905-1915)

Photo: Unknown Author (1917), Public Domain
Sisters of the world, let’s gather our power, and shock the men who belittle us by saying, ‘What can women do’?



Komako Kimura (1887-1980), from “The New Real Woman’s Society”

Photo: Komako Kimura at a suffrage march in New York City (1917), Unknown Author



Description

In our November 2021 staged readings of A Women’s Suffrage Splendiferous Extravaganza!, Maestra Impresaria and her dynamic vaudeville troupe present the stories of the trail-blazing leaders and watershed moments of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States. Through unique adaptations of suffrage propaganda, popular music from the Library of Congress Songs of Suffrage Archive, and new songs from NYC-based composers Lacy Rose and November Christine, we endeavor to display the breadth and diversity within this eight-decade long struggle, including the pivotal contributions of suffragists of color, who have been continually marginalized and erased from our collective re-telling of the history of the women’s suffrage movement.

Join us on an exhilarating jaunt to celebrate, explore, and problematize this historic fight to win women the vote! By examining the intersection of the voices of American women of the past and women of today, we ask ourselves and our audience to consider how the fight for equality continues in this quest for the enfranchisement of all citizens in our democracy.


Introducing… our Suffragists!

Synopsis

Led by our daring Maestra Impresaria, the “Great Women of History” will go head-to-head in a fight for the right to vote! The show starts with a bang as “The Sharpshootin’ Suff,” Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) duels with legendary abolitionist Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) over the 15th Amendment. Anthony’s quick on the draw—but her racist rhetoric misses the bullseye.

The next act is Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927) as “The Magician.” A true visionary, Woodhull is a medium, a newspaper editor and the first female presidential candidate. Her power to see the future has the audience mesmerized—until “The Anti Suffrage Sisters” burst on stage. Staunchly against women’s suffrage, The Antis threaten to steal the show with their catchy anti-suffrage tunes. But have no fear, Ida B. Wells (1862-1931) “The Tallest Woman in the World” is here! A world-famous anti lynching activist and leading Black suffragist, Wells truly towers above the rest.

Not to be outshone, enter Mabel Ping-Hua Lee (1896-1966), the “Teen Tamer of Fire.” Her magical lanterns illuminate the struggles of Chinese immigrant women who aren’t allowed US citizenship, let alone the right to vote. It’s a tough act to follow, but Rose Schneiderman (1882-1972), “Star of the Yiddish Stage,” is up for the challenge. A prominent Jewish American women’s trade union organizer, Schneiderman uses Yiddish song—and a bit of humor—to represent working women in the suffrage movement. Next up is Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947) as “The Ventriloquist.” Catt attempts to manipulate her dummy Woody (President Woodrow Wilson) into passing the 19th Amendment—but who’s pulling whose strings?

Impatient for the spotlight, Alice Paul (1885-1977) storms the stage as “The Strongwoman.” She flexes and grandstands, but can’t outmuscle the political system. The final act is Maria Guadalupe Evangelina de Lopez (1881-1977) as “The Spanish Rose.” Preferring unity over divisiveness, Lopez is a bridge between two worlds, using her gift of translation to ignite the suffrage movement in the Spanish-speaking community.

The moment of truth has arrived—will women win the right to vote? The Maestra employs the Vote-O-Meter to determine the verdict. Heavy hitter Susan B. Anthony strikes the mallet and…DING! They’ve won! But their victory is short lived…

To find out how it all ends for the ladies of A Women’s Suffrage Splendiferous Extravaganza!, stay tuned for updates on the development of our show and new performances!

Suffragists picketing the White House in 1917 
Photo: Harris & Ewing, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Cast & Creative Team

Press & Media

Collaborator Spotlight

November Christine
Co-Creator (Book, Music & Lyrics)

November Christine (she/her/hers) holds a degree in Cellular Biology and Molecular Genetics from the University of Maryland, as well as a BM in Musical Theatre from the East Carolina University School of Music. She produced her award-winning musical MIRROR, MIRROR at the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival, followed by a 3-week run in Los Angeles, CA. November’s historical hip-hop drama, LEGACY THE MUSICAL was showcased in London in 2017 and won “Best of Fest” at the 2018 New York Musical Festival.

Her other works include her play IDA, about the anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells, and A WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE SPLENDIFEROUS EXTRAVAGANZA! a vaudeville revue written in collaboration with The Pleiades Project. November is a BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop Lyricist, 2021 Billie Burke Ziegfeld Award Winner, and Co-chair of the NYCLU Artist Ambassador Program.

Caroline Miller
Co-Creator (Book & Lyrics)

Caroline Miller is Co-Founder & Artistic Director of The Pleiades Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to championing women’s stories through opera, film, and original music-theater projects. With The Pleiades Project, Caroline has expanded her artistic talents outside of performance, embracing her interdisciplinary skills as a director, writer, programmer, and producer. She produced and starred in the short-film Così, excerpted from W.A. Mozart’s Così fan tutte, which was named an official selection of the NY Indie Theatre Film Festival. Caroline directed the entirety of the 24 Series, a collection of videos based on the 17th and 18th-century song collection, Twenty-Four Italian Songs & Arias.

For the 2020-2021 season, Caroline directed the premiere A Women’s Suffrage Splendiferous Extravaganza!, a vaudevillian revue celebrating and problematizing the US women’s suffrage movement, through a generous grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

Suffragists demonstrating against Woodrow Wilson in Chicago, 1916
Photo: National Woman’s Party Records, Library of Congress
A Women’s Suffrage Splendiferous Extravaganza! is made possible in part with public funds from Creative Engagement, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and administered by LMCC.
I take the long way there

I take the long way there

Description

I take the long way there: A Capstone Project (2021) is a classical music concert-film, created during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through experimental music videos, this film project engages with making art and rediscovering the everyday moments that sustain us through turbulent times. I take the long way there features Noelle McMurtry (voice) and a vibrant cast of instrumental and vocal collaborators as they interpret the works of historic and living women composers in classical music, including Melissa Dunphy, Jessica Krash, Lori Laitman, Clara Schumann, Maddalena Casulana, and Vittoria Aleotti. I take the long way there was awarded Honorable Mention in Boston-based Guerilla Opera Underground’s 2022 Film Series.

I take the long way there: A Capstone Project (2021)
Original Version
I take the long way there: A Capstone Project (2021)
Alternate Version with Lori Laitman’s “The Sunflowers”

Artist Statement

Like so many of us, I have gained and shed all types of baggage throughout the past two years.

In August of 2020, as it sunk in that live performance was no longer a viable option due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I began to work on I take the long way there. With the support of collaborators, teachers, and coaches, a concert that was originally planned for a live audience in fulfilment of my Doctoral degree transformed into a virtual film project. Due to pandemic-related delays and set-backs, I take the long way there took over nine months to complete. In the process, it was reconfigured from an academic obligation into a creative and personal reaction to the events, experiences, and emotions of this tumultuous period in our history.

By attempting to safely create art and make music in this chaotic time, I was forced to confront my artistic values and mission through technology in unexpected ways. I renewed my commitment to the voices of women in classical music, past and present. Composers like Melissa Dunphy, Lori Laitman, Clara Schumann, Maddalena Casulana, and Vittoria Aleotti continually served as my creative guides. Through this process, I also deepened collaborative partnerships with longtime friends and colleagues, a group of fantastic multi-hyphenates. Together, we navigated bringing our often-acoustic art form into a digital realm.

As I described to her the myriad twists and turns of the creative process behind I take the long way there, Mary Maxwell, translator of Sulpicia’s poetry in Jessica Krash’s Sulpicia Songs, observed to me that “sometimes the long way uncovers things we wouldn’t have discovered if we’d been able to take the direct road.”

Noelle McMurtry
Washington DC, 2021

Creative Team & Ensemble

  • Noelle McMurtry; voice, co-director, dramaturg & writer
  • Caroline Miller; voice, co-director & audio editing
  • Elizabeth Van Os; voice & director of photography
  • Marina Iwao, piano
  • Paula Maust, baroque organ
  • Flavia Pajaro-Van de Stadt, viola
  • Eric Sedgwick, piano

Program


For more information about the musical works and composers featured in I take the long way there, check out my research and writing!

Collaborator Spotlight

Caroline Miller
Co-Director

Caroline Miller is Co-Founder & Artistic Director of The Pleiades Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to championing women’s stories through opera, film, and original music-theater projects. With The Pleiades Project, Caroline has expanded her artistic talents outside of performance, embracing her interdisciplinary skills as a director, writer, programmer, and producer. She produced and starred in the short-film Così, excerpted from W.A. Mozart’s Così fan tutte, which was named an official selection of the NY Indie Theatre Film Festival. Caroline directed the entirety of the 24 Series, a collection of videos based on the 17th and 18th-century song collection, Twenty-Four Italian Songs & Arias.

For the 2020-2021 season, Caroline is directing the premiere A Women’s Suffrage Splendiferous Extravaganza!, a vaudevillian revue celebrating and problematizing the US women’s suffrage movement, through a generous grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. She co-created AWSSE! in collaboration with Noelle McMurtry and November Christine. 

Soprano Elizabeth Van Os is one of New York City’s most dynamic performers, making waves not only as soloist and ensemble member but also as a co-founder of the non-profit Pleiades Project. For her efforts, the opera-zine parterre took notice of her “striking impression,” with additional praise from Voce di Meche for her “lovely, affecting” voice and “justifiable passion.” 
 
A lover of concert work, Elizabeth has appeared as soloist with the American Symphony Orchestra, the Berkshire Bach Society, The Astoria Choir, the Collegiate Choir, Ars Musica, and more. In opera, notable roles have included that of Margeurite in Faust and Mimi in La Bohéme, both as Sing Through Central productions. She is a regular invited guest at Bard SummerScape Festival, where she has performed in productions like Anton Rubenstein’s Démon, Dvorâk’s Dimitrij, Pietro Mascagni’s Iris, and Dame Ethel Smyth’s Wreckers
 
With an eye towards growing the repertoire, Van Os’s career has a particular focus on collaboration with select contemporary music composers, including recent premieres of work by Matthew Brown with The Astoria Choir, and Katherine Hoover, where she was a featured soloist with the New York Virtuoso Singers. Offstage, Van Os creates new performance opportunities for female artists as the co-founder of The Pleiades Project, a non-profit production company.  

Multimedia

“The Sunflowers” by Lori Laitman
June by Melissa Dunphy
Sulpicia’s Songs by Jessica Krash
German Romantics: Clara
Farewell, Angelina by Melissa Dunphy

I take the long way there is in partial fulfillment of the Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Vocal Performance at Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University.