16th American Peptide Symposium Opera

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Important notice, updated December 29, 1999. Coming very soon in the new millennium (pending copyright approvals), the opera libretto complete with scholarly annotations will be posted on the web, and an exciting videotape will be available in return for a tax-deductible contribution (recommended donation $25.00 per video) to the American Peptide Society. Production of the opera video, which also includes an extra 20 minutes or so of uplifting and sometimes hilarious scenes from the closing banquet, has been supported by a generous grant from Dr. Rao Makineni. The video is available in numerous formats: VHS (NTSC - USA, Japan, elsewhere), VHS (PAL - much of Western Europe, including West Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland, etc.), VHS (SECAM - France, much of Eastern Europe, former Soviet Union, and Middle East), and Beta. We would appreciate your pre-order at your earliest convenience through an on-line process accessed by clicking here (this information also allows us to take advantage of bulk discounts). Information about where to send your check or money order (US dollars, please) is also provided (in exceptional cases, we are prepared to take donations via credit card).

For a photo gallery of scenes from the opera, start by clicking here, and then keep clicking on "next" (this covers the middle of disk 50 through the first few of disk 53; please be sure to read the captions) and/or use the photo pages search engine, reached by clicking here and type in "opera" (this latter procedure will also access pictures of the stars getting ready for the performance). You may also enjoy reading President Yudof's banquet remarks, which introduced the peptide opera; to do so, just click here.

Peptide Ångst

La Triviata

A One-Act Comic Opera Commissioned by:
George Barany for the 16th American Peptide Symposium
July 1, 1999

Writer, Producer, Director: Gary Gisselman

Lighting Design: Chris Johnson

Stage Manager and Sound Effects: Beth Denker

Music: Felix Arndt, Georges Bizet, Gaetano Donizetti, Georg Friedrich Handel, Giacomo Puccini, Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Sullivan, Guiseppe Verdi, and others, as arranged and embellished by Roberta Carlson

Cast (in order of vocal appearance):

Announcer Gerald Drake
Cash Baxter Gerald Drake
Ex-Wife Molly Sue McDonald
Kids Deborah Barany, Michael Barany
Ole Thomas Larson
Ester Molly Sue McDonald
Nerd Ångström Bradley Greenwald
Brandy Kinin Lynn Dyrhaug-Rotto
Sid Sharmus Thomas Larson
Julia Child Thomas Larson
Carbon Jones Lynn Dyrhaug-Rotto
Leucine Molly Sue McDonald
Polly Deborah Barany
Peptide Michael Barany
Hans von de Fritz             Bradley Greenwald

Capsule Synopsis:

"Peptide Ångst: La Triviata" luridly explores the neurotic world of peptide chemist, Nerd Ångström, as he heroically seeks to break free of the ring of fire that is his life. Aided by private eye-turned-science-ghost-grant-writer, Cash Baxter, Nerd strives to find the eternal harmonic balance between his science, his Faustian agreement with the NIH, his devoted wife Leucine and loving children Polly and Peptide, and his despair with the moral decay of the twentieth century fin-de-siècle brought on by the teaching of evolution. Meet Sid Sharmus, Carbon Jones, Hans von de Fritz and many others in this gripping operatic tale of love, betrayal, angst, and the search for the elixir of funding.

Program Notes:

GB: The conventional wisdom holds that scientists are narrowly focused, monomaniacal, and unworldly individuals who doggedly pursue the truth to the exclusion of other human endeavors, whereas actors and singers are handsome yet uncritical mouthpieces not worthy of respect. This caricature is badly in need of revision. The creative process leading to the opera that you are about to see and hear was a microcosm of what both scientists and artists go through in their respective fields of specialization: the struggle for a theme, the brainstorming, the Eureka moment when a vision evolves, the agony of working out the details of the overall vision, the pangs of rejection, the iterative improvements and improvisations, and the ‘hybrid’ vigor of collaborations founded on mutual respect and admiration. We trust and hope that you will be amused, entertained, and wiser for this experience. Besides, what else is there to do now that the basketball champions have been crowned and the Symposium is over?

GG: There are many things that artists and scientists hold in common: people think us odd; we are constantly explaining ourselves to granting organizations: "Go over your artistic vision for me once more" or "Tell me why it is that arts are important to us". But one of our strongest bonds is that we love to play. Serious play. I am never happier than when in a rehearsal room and I suspect you feel the same about the laboratory. In the rehearsal room anything might happen and seldom what I thought would happen. It is a place of discovery, tension, risk, competition, cunning, courage, good humor, and great spirit -- all in the pursuit of shedding some light on life's mysteries. Play. In the performing arts that light is very ephemeral and I sometimes envy your more lasting results. But we seem to pursue our play with equal passion and so perhaps that is what we have most in common and what I find hardest to communicate to those who do not share our passion: choosing to be an artist or scientist is not to choose a profession but a life. It has been a pleasure to meet so many of you and find some of you to be sane and rational human beings (remember my only prior contact was George) and I do hope you enjoy our opera.

Cast and Crew

Deborah Adina Barany (Polly) was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1989. She is about to begin fifth grade at Parkview Center School, where her favorite subjects are math, science, reading, and writing. Deborah plays violin and guitar, and composes songs. She recently starred in the role of The Professor in "The Wackadoo Zoo" at Parkview, and was the Sheriff of Nottingham in a musical version of "Robin Hood" at the Rymer-Hadley Academy of Fine Arts. Deborah enjoys many sports, and has been the Minnesota novice speed-skating champion in her age group for the past three years. Her career goal is to play basketball in the WNBA.

George Barany (opera commissioner) is the Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Chemistry and Medicine & Laboratory Pathology at the University of Minnesota, and co-Chair of the 16th American Peptide Symposium. Barany’s family emigrated to the United States in 1960, and all of his education was in New York City: first its public schools, and then graduate and postdoctoral studies at The Rockefeller University in the laboratory of Nobel laureate Bruce Merrifield. George has been an opera aficionado since childhood, and debuted in Northrop Auditorium as a non-singing member of the off-stage chorus in a Metropolitan Opera tour production of #145;Tosca’. With Barbara, he is the proud parent of Michael and Deborah.

Michael Jeremy Barany (Peptide) was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1987. He will enter the seventh grade at Parkview Center School, where he plays trumpet in the brass quintet (quartet when the trombone player doesn’t show up) and is a member of various school and district choruses. Michael avidly plays baseball and basketball, and he speed skates. Academically, he especially enjoys writing and mathematics, the latter as a participant in the University of Minnesota Talented Youth Math Program (UMTYMP). Michael has been singing and acting since age 7, and his recent roles include the Onceler in Dr. Seuss’ "The Lorax", Prospero in Shakespeare’s "The Tempest", and the title role in a musical version of "Robin Hood" that featured quite a sword fight with his sister.

Roberta Carlson (piano arranger and accompanist) is a theater composer and musician known to Twin Cities audiences for her work at the Children’s Theatre Company, The Jungle Theater, and Illusion Theater, and is a frequent guest artist at the Arizona Theater Company. She has composed scores for more than one hundred productions, including "Dracula", "The Tempest", "A Midsummer Night’s Dream", "Macbeth", and "Under Milkwood".

Beth Denker (stage manager, sound effects) is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Voice Performance at the University of Minnesota. Last year, she appeared in the University’s productions of "Cosi Fan Tutte" and "L’Incoronatione di Poppea". Beth’s acting credits include Mrs. Peachum in "The Threepenny Opera", Meg in "Brigadoon", the title role in Brecht’s "Antigone", and Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare’s "Richard III", among others. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, sewing, mountain biking, and playing with her pet turtle, Vinny.

Gerald Drake (Announcer, Cash Baxter) has worked extensively for the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he has performed roles in "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer", "A Christmas Carol", "The Miser", "Cinderella", "A Midsummer Night’s Dream", "Our Town", and "The Wind in the Willows", among many others. He has also played roles for American Drama Group Europe in Münich, Germany and Theatre Perspectives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His film credits include "Loose Ends", "A Suitcase", and "Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Memories and Perspectives". He was recently awarded a 1999 McKnight Theatre Artist Fellowship.

Lynn Dyrhaug-Rotto (Brandy Kinin, Carbon Jones) is a Twin Cities based singer and actress. She has played numerous roles with The Minnesota Opera and North Star Opera. She has also appeared in numerous musical theater productions including Lola in "Damn Yankees", Bianca in "Kiss Me Kate", Cleo in "Most Happy Fella", and Eva Peron in "Evita". She lives in Woodbury, Minnesota with her husband, an organic chemist with Imation Corporation, and her two children, Erika and Torsten.

Gary Gisselman (writer, producer, director) has for the past five years been the Opera Theater Director at the University of Minnesota. Prior to that, he was the Artistic Director of the Arizona Theater Company for 11 years and prior to that the Founding Director of the Chanhassen Dinner Theaters in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia and has never been a peptide chemist.

Bradley Greenwald (Nerd Ångström, Hans von de Fritz) is a familiar face in the baroque, opera, operetta, concert, theater, and new music theater venues here in the Twin Cities. He is a regular performer with North Star Opera, Nautilus Music Theater, and Ex Machina. He has also performed with The Minnesota Opera, Children’s Theatre Company, Illusion Theater, and Minnesota Dance Theater, and has sung with the Minnesota Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. In October, Brad will star opposite Maureen McGovern in a concert performance of Gershwin’s "Of Thee I Sing" with The Plymouth Music Series at Orchestra Hall. A frequent collaborator with Theatre de la Jeune Lune, he will be Papageno in a fantastical version of "The Magic Flute" in November.

Chris Johnson (lighting design) has been a lighting and set designer for numerous productions over the years, working at such local theatres as Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, Great American History Theatre, and Women’s Theatre Project, as well as many regional theatres throughout the Unites States. She has also been the lighting designer for the University of Minnesota Opera for 20 years. Chris is co-owner of Studio Crafts scenic studio in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Thomas Larson (Ole, Sid Sharmus, Julia Child) has had an active career in a variety of performing arts disciplines. He played Jack in Nautilus Music Theater’s critically acclaimed "Into the Woods", and has played roles in works of Kurt Weill and Gertrude Stein, among many others. Last month, he sang with Bobby McFerrin and Yo-Yo Ma at the Ordway Music Theater. With The Plymouth Music Series, he has sung in London, Paris, Prague, Belgium, spent last New Year's Eve on television in Stockholm, and this month records and concertizes in Rotterdam. An accomplished flutist, he also skis when he has the time. Oh, and Bon Appetit!

Molly Sue McDonald (Ex-Wife, Ester, Leucine) is recognized for her versatility and has performed extensively in the areas of theater, musical theater, opera, and the concert stage. She has appeared with major orchestras such as the Columbus Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Kansas City Symphony and others, and was recently a guest on Garrison Keillor’s "A Prairie Home Companion"! Molly’s theater credits include performances at the Arizona Theater Company, Goodman Theater, Guthrie Studio, Cricket, and ten leading roles at the Chanhassen Dinner Theaters. She has worked with acclaimed singer/conductor Bobby McFerrin and released an award-winning lullaby recording ‘Child of Mine’ in 1996.

We thank the following for contributions to the conception and implementation of the opera performance, the opera video, and the opera libretto, both before and after the Symposium:

Fernando Albericio
Jerry Ariganello
Sari Baker
Barbara Barany
Christina Bastin de Jong
Donald Breneman
Charles Deber
Barb Edgar
Jed Fisher
Joe Franek
Lloyd Fricker
Natasha Frost
Nancy Hoyt
Kim Kanowitz
Alden Mead
Dan Silversmith
Arno Spatola
John Stewart
Thomas Stueber
Vern Sutton
James Young