The current production project is a one-act opera featuring a coloratura soprano.
The piece is titled, Never Mind, by composer/director Ben Bernstein.
A One-Act Opera
“Never Mind” is a one-act opera that tells the story of an African-American coloratura soprano in her dressing room 30 minutes before she goes on stage as a soloist in Handel’s Messiah. We watch her as she finishes dressing and warms up, practicing various vocal exercises, along with snippets of the arias she is about to sing, from the gentle “I know that my Redeemer liveth,” to the delightful “If God be for us, who can be against us?,” and ultimately the virtuosic “Rejoice greatly,O daughter of Zion.” All the while, we are hearing the voices in her head, which start out being complimentary and encouraging, but then become critical and accusative.
The cacophony of her inner voices becomes increasingly troublesome and anxiety-provoking, and it almost seems as if she will lose the struggle for confidence that is essential for performance. Ultimately, she finds her inner strength, and, fully dressed and ready, she exits the dressing room to go onstage for the performance.
“Never Mind” will be premiered by Shawnette Sulker. Ms. Sulker has been described as a singer “…displaying a bright, superbly controlled soprano with perfectly placed coloratura.” On the operatic stage, she has been a featured artist in three San Francisco Opera productions: Porgy and Bess, The Mother of Us All, and Louise, as well as in roles of many opera companies in the Bay Area and abroad.
She is also a frequent featured soloist on the concert stage. A native of Guyana and a graduate of Bennington College, Ms. Sulker is the recipient of numerous artists’ grants
Ben Bernstein’s first notice as a composer when he was awarded commissions for his settings of the Bloch translation of The Song of Songs. He has received grants for his opera compositions from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Walter & Elise Haas Fund and the East Bay Community Foundation.
Ben was Gian Carlo Menotti’s assistant at the American Opera Center, at the Juilliard School, where he also directed theater in the Drama Division. Bernstein has also co-created and directed original theater productions in prisons, psychiatric hospitals and public schools.