design by Nathalie Vogel

A Two-Act Chamber Opera

Music by Evan Hause
Libretto by Gary Heidt
Directed by Philippe Bodin

Featuring Salvatore Basile as James Forrestal

Martin Dillon, David Gordon,
Chad Karl, George Kasarjian, Vielka Kelly
Martin Maurais,
Mark Peters, Ilya Speranza
Danielle Musick, Kari Swenson Riely, Margarita Desyatnik

May 19-21, 26-28, June 2-4 at 8:00 PM
Present Company Theatorium
198 Stanton Street
(J, M, Z to Essex; F to Delancey)

Tickets: $15.00



NIGHTINGALE: The Last Days of James Forrestal, the second conspiracy theory opera in composer Evan Hause's "Defenestration Trilogy," will debut May 19, 2002 at 8:00 PM at Present Company Theatorium at 198 Stanton between Attorney and Ridge Streets in Manhattan's Lower East Side. The Defenestration Operas take as their subject matter certain dark corners of 20th century American political or technological history, where human struggles for money and power end in the death of modern heroes. On May 22, 1949, James Vincent Forrestal, this nation's first Secretary of Defense, plunged to his death from the sixteenth floor of the Bethesda Naval Hospital.

Forrestal, originally from Beacon, NY, was one of the most dynamic figures in American politics during the Second World War and the beginning of the Cold War. A self-made millionaire, he brought the methods of big business from Wall Street to FDR's war machine as Under Secretary of the Navy. During and after the war, he was also an outspoken opponent of Communism and is considered by many to be the original Cold Warrior. The death was officially ruled a suicide, the result of Forrestal's mental exhaustion incurred by interservice rivalry during the unification of the American military. As such, he would be the highest U.S. Government official to take his own life. Forrestal himself thought that he was a target for assassins, a "delusion" that was offered as proof of his mental illness.

Librettist Gary Heidt's story cleaves to the actual sequence of events during Forrestal's 50-day commitment. Characters include, in addition to Forrestal and his wife Josephine, his psychiatrist George Raines, National Security Advisor Sidney Souers, Red Cross leader and confidante Pauline Davis, President Harry Truman and various senators. The libretto explores this mystery with a sense of daring, humor, and theatrical panache. Hause, an up-and-coming classical composer with a penchant for song and musical narrative, brings a highly eclectic voice to the musical score.

"This war has been going on for longer than any us ever knew...."




Gary Heidt is a nationally published poet, novelist, performing artist, and producer of music and theater. He is a graduate of Columbia College in New York.

Evan Hause's music has been performed by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Boston, Phoenix, Jacksonville, San Diego, Memphis, Grand Rapids and Utah Symphonies, Salt Lake City Contemporary Music Consortium, and at the Banff Centre for the Arts, CalArts, "Spring in Havana" Electronic Music Festival, and June in Buffalo, where the Buffalo News wrote: "This is music with a clear message and destination." He was commissioned twice last year by the Albany Symphony who premiered his Trumpet Concerto on September 14. He has received awards from ASCAP and residencies at the MacDowell Colony. Both the New York Times and Cadence Jazz Magazine reviewers have praised his work as a percussionist and guitarist. He holds degrees from Oberlin College and University of Michigan and is originally from eastern North Carolina. He studied composition with William Bolcom, William Albright, Richard Hoffmann, Randolph Coleman, David N. Baker, and Ben Johnston. Further biographical information, click here.

After an extended career in France both as an opera singer and director of two chamber opera companies, Philippe Bodin is now active as an opera director, coach and composer in New York. While in France, he studied piano, architecture, theater and dance. In the US, he studied theater with Patrick Stewart and James de Paul, and composition with Martin Bresnick and Jacob Druckman. A frequent theater collaborator, his music has been performed at the New Haven Repertory Theater, the Piccola Scala Milano, and the Sonic Boom Festival NYC. He has been awarded fellowships and residencies at the MacDowell Artist colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Atlantic Center for the Arts and the Banff Centre for the Arts. He is the first winner of the Los Angeles Music of Changes Composers' Portrait Series 2001. He holds a Bachelor of Music from Oberlin College and the Doctorate of Musical Arts from Yale University.


Salvatore Basile (James V. Forrestal) has sung principal roles in opera, concert, and theatre with companies including the Caramoor Festival, White Barn Theatre, Harrisburg Opera, Trinity Concerts, Chelsea Theatre, Jupiter Symphony, New York Grand Opera, Charles Playhouse and Opera Northeast. The strength of his performance in Victor Herbert's "Natoma" resulted in an invitation from director Donald Saddler to co-star in his revival of Vernon Duke's "Sadie Thompson," and the association continued with his featured appearance alongside Beatrice Arthur and Charlotte Rae in "The Threepenny Opera" at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. His work in contemporary music has led him to the Center for Contemporary Opera, where he created the title in the New York premiere of Carlisle Floyd's "Markheim"; American Chamber Opera, where he sang leading roles in revivals of "Dr. Heidigger," "Mozart and Salieri" and "Blennerhasset"; to Encompass Music Theatre for Sorrel Hays' "The Glass Woman"; and to the Theatre for the New City for Evan Hause's multi-media "The Birth and Theft of Television." He can be heard on New World Records, as well as on the soundtrack of the TBS production "The Amazing World of Cats and Dogs." He is an avid collector of 78 rpm recordings.

Tenor Martin Dillon (Harry Truman) is currently Director of Opera and Musical Theater Studies at Rutgers University-Camden where he has developed their Opera/Musical Theater Program. He is an accomplished tenor having performed over 35 roles in the US and Europe ranging from Tamino to Florestan, Albert Herring to Oedipus Rex. His last NYC appearance was with Renee Fleming and OONY in a Carnegie Hall concert performance of Donizetti's "Lucrezia Borgia." He looks forward to the release of a complete solo/lieder CD recording of "The songs of Robert Kahn" August 1st, 2002, and adding the role of Mozarts' Belmonte to his repertoire next spring 2003 in a joint program of the opera houses of Lisbon, Portugal and Seville, Spain. He will produce a full-scale production of Mascagni's "L'Amico Fritz" at Rutgers University-Camden in Fall 2004, and sing the role of Fritz. Mr. Dillon will perform numerous recitals throughout the US over the next two years and looks forward to a NYC Town Hall debut recital of the song cycles of Georges Hue and Jean Caplet in September 2003. [Editor's note: Please visit the Martin Dillon Tribute page.]

Tenor David Gordon (George Raines) is originally from Kalamazoo, MI, and earned his Master Degree in Classical Performance and Opera at the Manhattan School of Music. David is very honored to have been named the first recipient of the Gordon K. and Harriet Greenfield Tenor Scholarship, a full tuition award for his studies at MSM. Heis currently studying with Ted Puffer. Performances at MSM included the roles of Alfredo in La Traviata and Don Jose in Carmen as part of the Tom Muraco and Dona D. Vaughn workshop, and the Male Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia, conducted by Julius Rudel, for the MSM Opera Department. David also performed scenes from Eugene Onegin, Vanessa, Carmen, and La Rondine. Previous roles include the Governor in Candide (Central City), Ferrando in Cos' fan Tutte (Michigan Opera Works), Rodolfo in La Bohme (FOTO of Michigan), and Borsa in Rigoletto (Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra). He holds a Bachelor Degree in Voice from the University of Michigan, where he studied voice with George Shirley and coached on numerous occasions with Martin Katz. While at the U of M, he performed the roles of Monostatos in The Magic Flute and Elder Gleaton in FloydÕs Susannah, both conducted by Kenneth Kiesler and directed by Joshua Major. DavidÕs credits as a stage director include full productions of The Rape of Lucretia and Dido and Aeneas, and scenes programs for the Brevard Music Center, the Chautauqua Institute, and the University of Michigan Opera Studio.

Mezzo-soprano Vielka Kelly (Pauline Davis) has premiered several new works and has been a featured soloist at various New York venues, including the 92nd Street Y, the Knitting Factory, and the United Nations. She made her Merkin Concert Hall debut as a principal soloist with the Harmonia Opera Company in the world premiere of Christian McLeer's opera Haibo. Ms. Kelly has also had leading roles in several musicals and plays, most recently portraying Elsa Schraeder in The Sound of Music. She can be heard in the feature film The Learning Curve as the solo vocalist in the score by composer Zoran Boris. She was also a lead soloist in the premiere of Joe Diebes' Strange Birds at Gale Gates et al. A graduate of the Manhattan School of Music and New York University, Ms. Kelly resides in Manhattan, where she performs and teaches music through the Metropolitan Opera Guild and Education Through Music. She is also a member of the Adjunct Voice Faculty at New York University.

A native of Maine, Martin Maurais (Chairman Vinson) has made the transition from tenor to bass-baritone over the past few years. He has made several New York appearances recently as Colline (La Boheme), Simone (Gianni Schicchi), Angelotti (Tosca), Truffaldin (Ariadne auf Naxos), and several characters in The Ballad of Baby Doe. Maurais has participated in Young Artist programs at Caramoor, and at the Bowdoin College Summer Music Festival. He has performed in new operas by Ron Perrera ("S") and Dana Maiben (Look and Long) at Smith College. He currently studies with Fred Martell in Manhattan.

Mark Peters (Sidney Souers, Edward Prise): Recent appearances include "American Dream" at the Lark and the Shubert in New Haven, Andy in "Love Letters" and Frank in "Country Girl" at Fleetwood Stage in New Rochelle. He was Doc, opposite Donna McKechnie, in the musical of "Come Back, Little Sheba" at White Barn in Westport, cast album available at Manhattan's Footlight and on the web. Mark will soon co-star in the feature "Happenstance" scheduled for a 2003 release. Other stage performances include "White Rose" at the Public, Captain Ahab in an opera of "Moby Dick" in Boston, and Grandfather in a musical of "Heidi" in NYC. Also Erik in "Phantom"; Emile in "South Pacific"; Per--n in "Evita"; Matt in "Talley's Folly"; Michael in "I Do! I Do!"; revues of Sondheim and Weill songs; Gaston in "Gigi"; Alan in "Baby"; Joshua/Edward in "Cloud 9"; two new musicals at the Vineyard; and performances at Town Hall, Kennedy Center and BAM.

Ilya Speranza's (Josephine Forrestal) recent performances include the world premiere of Robert Kapilow's New Moon with the New Jersey State Opera in which she sang the role of the "Royal Mathematician", and "Barbara de la Guerra" in Victor Herbert's only opera, Natoma at the White Barn Theater in Westport, CT. Ms. Speranza created the role of "Ondine" in Seymour Barab's new opera Ondine for the Center for Contemporary Opera and sang "Marenka" in Smetana's Bartered Bride with The State Repertory Opera of New Jersey. She sang in the world premiere of Anthony Davis' Tania with the American Music Theater Festival in Philadelphia and "Frasquita" in Bizet's Carmen on tour with the New York City Opera National Company. Other regional appearances include "Liu" (Turandot) and "Frasquita", both with the Cincinnati Opera, "Elisetta" (Il Matrimonio Segreto) with Berkshire Opera and "Naiade" (Ariadne auf Naxos) with Long Beach Opera. A graduate of the New England Conservatory and Juilliard Schools and winner of the American Opera Association Competition, she now resides in New York City with her husband.

Danielle Musick (Chamber Chorus), soprano, is a graduate of Kansas State University. She made her New York debut with the American Singers' Opera Project as Zerlina in Don Giovanni. Other performing experience includes the role of Laurie in The Tenderland at Kansas State. Danielle has also appeared with Opera in the Ozarks as Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro and Cobweb in A Midsummer Night's Dream. While at Kansas State, Danielle was heard in productions of Cabaret, Showboat and L'Eliser d'Amore and she was also the winner of the 1999/2000 Aria/Concerto Competition.

Kari Swenson Riely (Chamber Chorus), a native of Bismarck, North Dakota, holds degrees from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota and from The Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM). Recent musical theater and operatic roles include Chava in The Fiddler on the Roof with Dorian Opera Theatre in Decorah, Iowa and Belinda in PurcellÕs Dido and Aeneas. Most recently she appeared with OhioÕs West Shore Chorale in BrahmsÕ Ein Deutsches Requiem. She has been guest artist with the Lakeland Civic Orchestra in Kirtland, Ohio singing songs of Edvard Grieg and recently sang Hanna in LeharÕs Merry Widow with the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra. Since recently arriving in New York, she has appeared in The Blue Hill TroupeÕs production of the Mikado and Point & GaspÕs original sketch comedy Sin-AGOG. She has performed regularly in recital in Cleveland and at Hiram College where she was on the voice faculty for three years. She has given masterclasses in Rochester, New York and has taught voice at the Chautauqua Institution. She now maintains a private voice studio on the Upper East Side.

Rita Desyatnik (Chamber Chorus) is currently working towards a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance at New York University. She will be spending this summer at Quisisana Resort in Maine performing in "The Music Man". Her roles in Opera Workshop at NYU have included La Perichole in "La Perichole", Zerlina in "Don Giovanni", and Cherubino in "Le Nozze de Figaro."


Rie Ono (Lighting Designer) has designed lighting for various productions both in Tokyo and the United States. Recent credits include: Another Gay Play, The Waiting Room , A Lie of the Mind, Once on this Island, and Footloose. She holds an MFA in Theater Design from NYU Tisch School of the Arts.

Lynn Marie Ruse (Choreographer) holds a Professional Diploma from the Laban Centre in London and an MFA from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. She has performed with Henry Montes in London, The Moving Company in Florida (Site-Specific Theater), Clarinda MacLow, Aiden Teker, Athena Malloy, and Rebecca Moore in NYC. Ruse is one half of FREEFALL(ltd) and her choreography has been presented in various NYC venues, by DTW at the World Trade Center and Heckshire State Park, Wave Hill, The Florida Dance Festival, and The Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. She is a Teaching Artist in Dance for Lincoln Center, a yoga instructor, and an adjunct at SUNY Stony Brook.

Mary Jane Dean's (Visuals) work can be seen at the Jack Hanley Gallery, San Francisco, and in the collections of the Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Castille-La Mancha, Spain. Her exhibitions include: Kubat-Dreieck, Berlin; Surfaces Held in the Light of Eclipses, Barcelona; Freedom Prize, Sarajevo; Still Moving Pictures, San Francisco; Where We Are Going, Where We Have Been, Santos Dumont and Optical Repository, World Trade Center, NYC; and The Drift Bottle Project, Provincetown, MA. She is the recipient of fellowships from: Centre d'Activitats i Investigacions Artistiques, Barcelona; World Views, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council; the MacDowell Colony; and the Fine Arts Work Center.