Film. Opera. Cabaret

2019 Fringe

What ENAensemble is doing for the 2019 Fringe Festival

Making opera & making a company to make it.

A short outline of ENAensemble’s 2019 Fringe Festival Project


Who are we?

  • Founded in April of 2018 via Prof. Vidiksis’s urging.

  • Added Nicole in May of 2018, registered for Fringe.

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Anaïs Naharro-Murphy

Artistic Director, Singer, Administrator, Master Scheduler, Personnel Manager, Props Boss, Stage Manager, Opera Specialist, Party Czar, and Temple Alum.

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Nicole Renna

Director, Singer, Costume Designer, Website Designer, Props Manager, Stage Manager, Lighting Designer, Catering Czar, Musical Theater Specialist, and Temple Alum.


What do we do?

  • We produce shows that use the voice, acoustic music, and other multi-media to tell compelling, topical stories.

  • Past shows:

    • 2018 Fringe Festival The Propaganda Machine Show - a film, opera, and cabaret.

    • 2019 chasing the moon - a staged production of Pierrot Lunaire with Stravinsky, Ravel, and Kassof.

    • 2019 Serial Opera Project - a multi-month opera commissioning project in residency at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

  • ENAartists - ENAensemble works closely with a number of local performers, engaging them professionally and regularly to develop a core, reliable group.



  • A new chamber opera by librettist Aleksandar Hut Kono and composer Evan Kassof

    • Collaboration! Aleks & Evan’s 4th opera - others: Colony (2015), Greenland (2015), and Elevator (2019)

    • Guildhall’s most important lessons:

      • Serve the shared vision.

      • Trust your collaborators.

      • Empower your performer.

      • Lean into the drama.

  • Premise

    • Far future opera where terrestrial nature has become taboo and is outlawed.

      • Act 1 - a high-level government official is caught in a virtual reality meadow and is severely and publicly punished. The public punishment and the personal distress among the family of this official play out.

      • Sonic Interlude - a sonic interlude unfolds while text and narration give detailed background information, contextualizing the philosophical, scientific, and political configurations of this society and of other contemporaneous societies.

      • Act 2 - two young people, constantly on the search for their next ‘high’ fall deeper into the dangerous pornographic underworld of their colony. They ultimately unleash through their lustful actions a dangerous insect invader that may destroy their world.

  • Performers

    • Cast of 5 to 7 singers who play multiple roles throughout the opera. Voice-types are still being settled.

    • Instrumentalists - a small chamber ensemble including flute/piccolo, violin, viola, bassoon, cello, piano, and percussion. More instruments are possible.

  • Why?

    • Our shared vision is to address the objectification of nature, some of the myriad the problems with totalitarianism, and start shifting our imagination to consider the era after climate change and the Holocene (or Anthropocene) Extinction.

    • Opera is uniquely suited as a medium to focus on these issues, as we can focus on drama sourced from:

      • The interpersonal drama of the characters

      • Their relationship with the world they maintain

  • How?

    • Developing the libretto

      • Text stylization

      • Intonation

      • Finalizing the complete draft

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Libretto Example

Figuring out the various kinds of pseudo-grammar structures for eventual text setting.

The Grammar Map

This map has melismatic, rhythmic, and articulation rules for different kinds of speech. This is used to stylize the sung-text in peculiar ways.

  • How? (cont.)

    • Composition

      • Instrumentation

      • Cast

      • Length

      • Leitmotifs

      • Workshopping

        • New Music on the Point - summer festival where an aria from the opera will be workshopped and performed by Tony Arnold, along with players coached by the JACK quartet.

        • At NMOP, coachings from composers John Luther Adams, Natacha Diels, Pamela Z, and Huang Ruo.

    • Timeline to Premiere

      • Now thru June: Develop and finalize Libretto, musical stylzations, and leitmotifs.

      • June-July: Compose and Orchestrate the score.

      • August 1st: Deliver scores to vocalists

      • August 15th: Begin rehearsals with vocalists

      • September 1st: Begin rehearsals with ensemble

      • September 16th-19th: Tech rehearsals

      • September 19th-22nd: 4-show run in the Blackbox at Plays and Players Theater


2019 Serial Opera Project

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What is the 2019 Serial Opera Project?

The Serial Opera Project is a multi-month opera presented in a series of episode at the Philadelphia Free Library. Each episode is composed by a different composer/librettist team, and together, all six teams will create a singular dramatic story. As each episode will be relatively short, the rest of the evening’s performance will consist of chamber music performances curated by the ENAartists presenting the opera.

The Serial Opera “Binge” - All six episodes presented continuously.

The Elevator

The main focus of this project is having each episode set in the same apartment building with a problematic (noisy, broken, unreliable) elevator. How the characters interact within (and between) each episode is up to you. Some initial ideas when developing the premise included: strangers getting trapped in the elevator together, a disgruntled maintenance person terrorizing the tenants, paranormal/psychedelic events on the elevator, and – what we’re doing for the first episode: a frustrated mom in the apartment next to the elevator constantly being interrupted by the noise who finds out her mom has cancer. Any direction you can imagine to take the interactions caused by, around, or within an elevator in an apartment building are fine!

How it all comes together

Both the Elevator and the colony of Gaynemede 5 are technological acheivements that eschew nature. Each forces us to confront norms regarding social ordering, class, and interaction – a forced coincidence of being transported to different places in different ways. But it can also be a place of rebellion, of romance, of love, and of violence.