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Canvas & Composers with the CROpera Theatre

Enjoy an evening of insights and inspiration in this lively discussion with the CRMA staff and composers. Executive Director Sean Ulmer and Associate Curator Kate Kunau will discuss the Grant Wood art works that the composer have chosen. Composers Jean-Francois Charles and Robert Lindsey-Nassif will tell us why they chose these specific works of art as inspiration for their operas.

In early September 2017, Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre Artistic Director Daniel Kleinknecht approached Cedar Rapids Museum of Art Executive Director Sean Ulmer about the possibility of commissioning two or three composers to create new one-act operas about Grant Wood inspired by one (or more) of Grant Wood’s paintings. On September 13, Ulmer took four potential composers along with Kleinknecht through the grant Wood Gallery as well as through the storage areas, sharing with the composers the Museum’s rich holdings in works by Wood. Afterward, the Museum worked with the composers by providing them with images of the works they found most intriguing and the composers went off to create.

From this original idea and spontaneous collaboration, three composers crafted one-act operas which will premiere on April 12 at Theatre Cedar Rapids.

Composer Michael Ching created “8 Woods and a Van,” which drew inspiration from eights works by Grant Wood and Jan Van Eyck’s Portrait of Giovanni (?) Arnolfini and his Wife, also known as the Arnolfini Wedding Portrait. Some of the Wood works included the Mourner’s Bench and the Imagination Isle frieze, both works that Wood had a hand in while still a teacher at McKinley Junior High School. Additional works included Stone City, Sultry Night, and Portrait of John B. Turner, Pioneer.

Composer Jean-François Charles created “Grant Wood in Paris,” which drew inspiration from a number of Wood’s impressionistic works, some of which were created on trips to Paris. Wood’s The Coil Welder from the J. G. Cherry Company series, and The Spotted Man were also utilized.

Composer Robert Lindsey-Nassif created “American Gothical,” utilizing Wood’s seminal painting American Gothic from the Art Institute of Chicago.

Hosts for this Event:
The CRMA and the CROpera Theatre