Shalimar the Clown World Premiere Recording

The world premiere recording of Shalimar the Clown has been released on Albany Records. The recording, made in 2016, features singers Sean Panikkar, Andriana Chuchman, Gregory Dahl, Katharine Goeldner, Thomas Hammons, Jenni Bank, Geoffrey Apgalo, Justin Austin, and Aubrey Allicock. Sitarist Arjun Verma and tabla Maestro Javad Butah compliment the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra led by Maestro Jayce Ogren. It’s available at Albany Records, iTunes, Amazon , Spotify and all other major outlets.

Shalimar the Clown is based on the novel by Salman Rushdie, with a libretto by award winning New York playwright Rajiv Joseph. As with Mr. Rushdie’s book, the opera is part Hindu/Muslim Romeo and Juliet and part Himalayan Paradise Lost — a meditation on the personal as political, and an allegory of the danger of innocence. The Wall Street Journal called Shalimar the Clown “Haunting… topical, literary and theatrical..poignant and vivid.”  The Chicago Tribune said the opera possessed “The dramatic resonance of modern Shakespearean tragedy”. The NY Times cited the opera’s “genuine out of the box composing”, and noted Ms.Chuchman’s “Intelligent, beguiling, bravura performance.”

The work was commissioned by Opera Theater of St. Louis with support from the Fred M. Saigh Endowment, the Sally S. Levy Family Fund for New Works, the Whitaker Foundation, The Andrew Mellon Foundation, The Berges Family Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Peter Henderson produced the recording for the PanGalactic company, Paul Hennerich engineered and Jack Perla served as Associate Producer.


“Sean Panikkar stands out above them all. This is truly his show… His pure, clear voice displays truly remarkable power. It shines like a beacon above the rest even when the entire cast are singing their hearts out. And his diction is superb. Shalimar is a tour de force role; Panikkar triumphs in it!”
—Broadway World

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An American Dream, 2019

I’m delighted to announce that An American Dream, my opera with librettist Jessica Murphy Moo, will be performed at Anchorage Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Virginia Opera, all  in the first quarter of 2019.

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Anchorage Opera
Sydney Laurence Theatre in the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts
Friday, February 15, 2019 @ 8:00 PM
Saturday, February 16, 2019 @ 8:00 PM
Sunday, February 17, 2019 @ 4:00 PM

Yeonji Lee – Setsuko Kobayashi
Nina Yoshida Nelsen – Mama, Hiroko Kobayashi
Hidenori Inoue – Papa, Makoto Kobayashi
Andrew Paulson – Jim Crowley
Elizabeth Baldwin – Eva Crowley
Cara Consilvio – Stage Director

This production made possible by an OPERA America Innovation Grant, supported by the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation.

Lyric Opera of Chicago
Harris Theater, 205 E Randolph Street, Chicago

Friday, March 15, 2019 @ 7:00 PM
Sunday, March 17, 2019 @ 2:00 PM

Virginia Opera
April 4, 2019 – Harrison Opera House, Norfolk, VA
April 5, 2019 – Harrison Opera House, Norfolk, VA
April 6, 2019 – Carpenter Theatre, Rhythm Hall, Richmond, VA

Yeonji Lee – Setsuko
Kristen Choi – Mama, Hiroko
Hidenori Inoue – Papa, Makoto
Director – Richard Gammon




In September, Seattle Opera will reprise its production of “An American Dream,” by composer Jack Perla and librettist Jessica Murphy Moo, which depicts the incarceration of Japanese Americans in the aftermath of the bombing of Pearl Harbor — providing “an essential second perspective for ‘Butterfly’ audiences.”

“We want to present opera in a way that reflects our time and place — so naturally, representing the diverse people of our region is important to us,” Lang said in the opera’s season announcement. “Whether it’s Verdi or Mozart on our mainstage, or an opera with Muslim or LGBTQ characters presented in our community — opera speaks to the experience of being human which we share. This is why it’s crucial to reduce historic barriers that have made our art form, at times, inaccessible.

The mainstage season unfurls with “Madame Butterfly,” by Giacomo Puccini, opening Aug. 5. Lang acknowledges that this story is problematic, thanks in part to some productions’ de-emphasis of Puccini’s anti-colonial sentiment and of his criticism of U.S. attitudes toward Japan. This well-regarded production, directed by Kate Cherry, is more faithful to the original intent, Lang said.”

Source: Seattle Opera’s 2017-18 season to include ‘Butterfly,’ Berlioz and a bilingual show for kids | The Seattle Times


Regents Lecture and Concert | UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music

Music in Cultural Contexts

“During the months of April and May, our Music Section friends will explore various musical genres, styles, venues, and cultural eras. Being at UCLA, the only problem is to make choices between performances, artists, and amazing venues we have around us.”

“On Sunday April 23 at 4-6 PM, The UCLA Alpert School of Music presented “A Poet’s Cabaret,” at Schoenberg Hall. Jack Perla was the featured composer and pianist, with an amazing group of UCLA opera and voice students. In addition, Jeffrey Ho performed Perla’s (2010) beautiful sonatina, “Wait Here” in 4 movements (with some improv) accompanied by Mr. Perla. “Betty Box Office (2008) was performed by talented Julia Stuart, Thomas Hollow, and Christopher Hunter.”

If you had to leave your home today and couldn’t return, what would you take with you? Why is that object – that connection to your past – so important? A story of patriots and immigrants as WWII is comes to a close.

Opera Maine’s talented Studio Artists, will present four performances of Jack Perla’s opera An American Dream:

St. Lawrence Arts, Portland, Wednesday, July 12 and Friday, July 14 at 7:30 pm, $20/$12,

Deertrees Theater, Harrison, Thursday, July 13 at 7:30 pm, $22/$16, TICKETS

The Temple, Ocean Park, Sunday, July 16 at 7:30pm, $15,, Tickets available at the door.

Timothy Steele, Musical Director, celebrates his fourteenth season with Opera Maine. Since 1991 he has been on the opera faculty of New England Conservatory, and he has served as conductor/pianist for over 120 productions with numerous companies, including Boston Lyric Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Central City Opera, and Wolf Trap Opera. He has conducted eight outreach tours with Boston Lyric Opera and was music director of Opera Providence.

Richard Gammon, Director, is the director of Opera Maine’s Young Artist Program (Gianni Schicchi, Trouble In Tahiti) and has also worked with the Young Artist Programs of the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Wolf Trap Opera Studio, Ash Lawn Opera, Opera North, and Virginia Opera. Other directing credits include: Ash Lawn Opera, Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Manhattan School of Music, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Kentucky Lexington.

Source: An American Dream by Jack Perla – Opera Maine

“On ‘Swimming Upstream’, the group creates an anxious, off-kilter feel as vocalist Jordan Carp’s tenor rides the rising and falling melody like a small craft on a stormy sea. The powerful voices of Crystal Monee Hall and Robin Coomer lend support, conjuring 1970s soul-jazz by Doug and Jeanne Carne and Bobby Hutcherson.”

Summer, 2016

Source: JAZZIZ Magazine


Review: 2 Murderous Men in 2 Operas About Killing for Politics

Sean Panikkar in the title role of “Shalimar the Clown,” at Opera Theater of St. Louis. (Photo: Ken Howard)

St. LOUIS — Macbeth’s weapon of choice is a dagger: long, thin and apt for plunging into a sleeping man’s chest. Shalimar’s is a hunting knife that can gut a cafe guest in broad daylight and looks shockingly like those used in the Islamic State’s execution videos.

These chilling props appeared in two strong, unsettling productions I watched on successive evenings here at the Opera Theater of Saint Louis: Verdi’s “Macbeth” on Thursday, a day after “Shalimar the Clown,” a new opera based on Salman Rushdie’s novel about love and innocence lost against the brutal backdrop of sectarian violence in Kashmir. That work, commissioned by the company from the composer Jack Perla and the librettist Rajiv Joseph (best known as a playwright), was elegantly directed by James Robinson.

The current season here also includes lighter fare like “La Bohème” and “Ariadne auf Naxos.” But with the shock of the recent massacre in Orlando still in my bones, I experienced “Shalimar” and “Macbeth” as a dark double bill that demonstrated opera’s ability to force a listener to contemplate uncomfortable questions. Continue reading “”


‘Shalimar the Clown,’ ‘Ariadne on Naxos’ and ‘Macbeth’ at Opera Theatre Saint Louis

The world premiere of an opera based on a Salman Rushdie novel is topical, literary and theatrical.

Andriana Chuchman as Boonyi and Sean Panikkar as Shalimar. (Photo: Ken Howard)

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A Paradise Lost, a Powerful ‘Shalimar the Clown,’ at Opera Theatre of St. Louis


Andriana Chuchman as Boonyi and Sean Panikkar as Shalimar perform in the world premiere of “Shalimar the Clown” for the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. (Photo: Ken Howard)

By John von Rhein | June 21, 2016 | St. Louis

Giuseppe Verdi knew a thing or two about creating powerful operas around credibly human characters thrown into violent conflict. So, as it turns out, does the creative team responsible for adapting Salman Rushdie’s “Shalimar the Clown” for the Opera Theatre of St. Louis.

It is something of a happy accident, then, that the adaptation by composer Jack Perla and librettist Rajiv Joseph of the British-Indian author’s 2005 novel — commissioned for this, the company’s 41st season — should be playing in repertory with Verdi’s “Macbeth,” another operatic tragedy with flawed figures confronting their darker natures.

Each work gets a gripping production that exemplifies what this envelope-pushing, opera-in-English company does best: high-gloss music theater that speaks to the cultural and political issues of today.

“Shalimar the Clown,” the opera theatre’s 25th world premiere, is the latest in a series of company commissions of new works that weave together diverse cultural strands to tell contemporary stories that are topical, risky, complicated, sometimes controversial. General director Timothy O’Leary has made these pieces an essential part of the company’s mission of relevance.

The OTSL’s 2011 restaging of John Adams’ “The Death of Klinghoffer” revived a great American opera based on the murder of a wheelchair-bound Jewish man by Palestinian terrorists aboard a cruise ship. Terrence Blanchard’s “Champion,” mounted here in 2013, was about a gay African-American boxer. Neither work has been staged in Chicago, but they really should be. So should “Shalimar.”

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