RICKY IAN GORDON
JENNIFER ZETLAN and NATHAN GUNN
RICKY IAN GORDON
A remarkable operatic poem, Ellen West plunges into the emotional, psychological, and physical challenges of a woman struggling with perceptions of her body, her relationship with food, and the world closing in around her. Inspired by one of the earliest cases of existential analysis, poet Frank Bidart and composer Ricky Ian Gordon examine the lives of psychiatrist Ludwig Binswanger and his patient, Ellen West. Bidart’s poem, which serves as the opera’s libretto, juxtaposes the clinical observations of Binswanger with fictitious entries of Ellen’s journals, illuminating a psychological portrait of a woman at war with her body.
The poem Ellen West by Frank Bidart, which serves as the libretto for this opera, can be found here.
Commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects and Opera Saratoga. Lead Funding for Ellen West at Opera Saratoga generously provided by the Poetry Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Saratoga Foundation. The commissioning of Ellen Reid for Ellen West received funding from OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Female Composers program, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation and the OPERA America Repertoire Development program, supported by The Opera Fund. Commissioned with generous leadership support from the Poetry Foundation, the Ted & Mary Jo Shen Charitable Gift Fund, David & Kiki Gindler, and the Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts. Additional support for Community and Educational Programs to complement the premiere of Ellen West has been provided by MVP Healthcare and the Dake Family Foundation Stewart’s Shops.
“Ricky Ian Gordon’s riveting one act opera…”
“Extraordinary… the music was beautifully lyrical.”
“Seldom is opera so deeply personal… You want to turn away but you can’t.”
“If the music of Ricky Ian Gordon had to be defined by a single quality, it would be the bursting effervescence… It’s caviar for a world gorging on pizza!”
"Haunting, provocative, poetic"
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