Royce Vavrek is an Alberta-born, Brooklyn-based librettist and lyricist known as “an exemplary creator of operatic prose” (The New York Times). His collaboration with composer David T. Little has led Heidi Waleson of The Wall Street Journal to proclaim them “one of the most exciting composer-librettist teams workingin opera today.” Their first full-length opera, Dog Days, received its world premiere in 2012 at Peak Performances @ Montclair, in a production co-produced by Beth Morrison Projects and directed by Robert Woodruff. The work was celebrated as the Classical Music Event of the year by Time Out New York, one of the year’s best by the New Jersey Star Ledger and a standout opera of recent decades by The New York Times. The production will travel to Fort Worth Opera and LA Opera in 2015 with the original creative team. Royce and David’s other collaborations include Am I Born for the Brooklyn Philharmonic and Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera for Bard Conservatory; archaeology, commissioned and recorded for The Opera America Songbook; and Last Nightfall, premiered as part of the 21c Liederabend, Op. 2 at The Kitchen. They are currently working on their first grand opera JFK, commissioned by Fort Worth Opera and American Lyric Theater.
In 2014 Royce premiered 27, his first collaboration with composer Ricky Ian Gordon, at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Created for mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, the work brought to life Gertrude Stein’s famous salon at 27 rue de Fleurus that hosted the likes of Picasso, Matisse, Hemingway and Fitzgerald. A new staging of the work will be mounted by Pittsburgh Opera in February of 2016. His collaboration with composer Missy Mazzoli yielded the opera Song from the Uproar which was presented by Beth Morrison Projects at The Kitchen in February of 2012. An original cast recording of the opera was released in 2012 on New Amsterdam Records. They are currently adapting Lars von Trier’s Cannes Grand Prix award-winning film Breaking the Waves for Opera Philadelphia and Beth Morrison Projects.
In 2013 Royce premiered The Hubble Cantata with composer Paola Prestini at Bay Chamber Concerts, a collaboration with filmmaker Carmen Kordas and astrophysicist Mario Livio. The work was performed by soprano Jessica Rivera along with the International Contemporary Ensemble and violinist Cornelius Dufallo. Royce and Paola are currently writing a second installment of The Hubble Cantata for baritone Nathan Gunn, as well as a collection of songs inspired by the posts of Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez. One of theirYoani-inspired songs, entitled “Union,” was included in the AIDS Quilt Songbook performed by mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard.
Other recent and upcoming projects include Strip Mall with Matt Marks for the Los Angeles Philharmonic; Stoned Prince with Hannah Lash for loadbang; Midwestern Gothic with Josh Schmidt for Signature Theatre, Virginia; O Columbia with Gregory Spears for HGOco; Knoxville: Summer of 2015 with Ellen Reid for the 21c Liederabend and University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and development of The Wild Beast of the Bungalow with Rachel Peters through the Center for Contemporary Opera. Royce is co-Artistic Director of The Coterie, an opera-theater company founded with Lauren Worsham.
Click here to read an Opera News interview with Mr. Vavrek.
Photo: Ricardo Beas