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MasterVoices Presents Revised Concert Version of Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie’s Opera The Grapes of Wrath April 17 at Carnegie Hall

Carnegie Hall
Apr 17 | Wed | 7:30pm | $35-155
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MasterVoices Presents Revised Concert Version of Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie’s Opera The Grapes of Wrath April 17 at Carnegie Hall at Carnegie Hall
Co-Narrated by Actors J. Smith-Cameron and Joe Morton

Conducted and Directed by Ted Sperling, the Performance Stars Singers Mikaela Bennett, John Brancy, Nathan Gunn, Margaret Lattimore, Malcolm MacKenzie, Bryonha Marie, Kyle Oliver, Christian Pursell, Victor Starsky, and Schyler Vargas

MasterVoices, the acclaimed chorus celebrating the power of the human voice to unite, inspire and connect since 1941, closes its 2023-24 season on April 17 at Carnegie Hall with a revised concert version of The Grapes of Wrath, the “great American opera” (Musical America) by composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist Michael Korie based on the epic novel of the same name by Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck. Set in the Great Depression of the 1930s, it tells the story of the Joad family, Oklahoma sharecroppers who, along with thousands of others, become refugees in their own country. As they migrate to find work in the would-be Promised Land of California, they face hardship, resentment, and violence.  

Two distinguished actors, Emmy-nominee (Succession) J. Smith-Cameron and Emmy Award-winner (Scandal) Joe Morton will co-narrate.

The Grapes of Wrath was given its New York City premiere by MasterVoices in 2010 and was the first work Ted Sperling brought to the group. This revival, presented as part of Mr. Sperling’s tenth season anniversary as Artistic Director with MasterVoices, features new revisions and music exclusive to this performance, with a keen focus on choral elements.   Ted Sperling conducts the 120–member MasterVoices chorus, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and an all-star cast including soprano Mikaela Bennett, last seen as Micaëla in MasterVoices’ 2022 staging of Carmen; baritone John Brancy, praised in the New York Times for “his vibrant, resonant presence” as Escamillo in the same production; “one of America’s great modern-day baritones” (OperaWire), Nathan Gunn, who sang the role of Tom Joad in the 2010 MasterVoices Carnegie Hall concert version premiere and who returns as Pa Joad; Grammy-nominated mezzo-soprano Margaret Lattimore; baritone Malcolm MacKenzie, praised for his “rich, warm and dark tone” (Opera News); Broadway’s Bryonha Marie (“her silvery soprano was utterly spellbinding,” The Boston Globe); the “velvet-sounding” (Woman Around Town) baritone Kyle Oliver; bass-baritone Christian Pursell in his Carnegie Hall debut; tenor Victor Starsky, who sang Roméo in New York City Opera’s recent Roméo et Juliette; and “powerful baritone” (Washington Post) Schyler Vargas, who sang the role of Strephon in MasterVoices’ 2023 production of Iolanthe.   The sound design is by Scott Lehrer. Tracy Christensen is the costume designer, and the lighting design is by Brian Tovar. The performance features projections by Wendall K. Harrington, who created the projections for the Minnesota Opera premiere as well as the MasterVoices 2010 concert, and stage management by Ira Mont.   Aside from its standalone significance, MasterVoices’ The Grapes of Wrath production will also mark the inauguration of the company’s Three in Six program, an ambitious new series committed to producing three contemporary American operas over the next six years. Three in Six builds on the group’s signature style, recently characterized by The New York Times as “smart modest stagings with strong musical values,” and is driven by the desire to give New York audiences more opportunities to hear outstanding 20th and 21st-century operas in lush musical environments. “The major opera companies have so few slots available,” says Ted Sperling, “and while there are innovative groups doing wonderful chamber stagings, there is little in between. So many worthy works – by some of our country’s greatest contemporary composers – have yet to be produced in New York for precisely this reason, and we look forward to opening up those vistas.”

The Grapes of Wrath Wednesday, April 17, 2024, 7:30 pm Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage Concert Opera Version in Two Acts Music by Ricky Ian Gordon Libretto by Michael Korie Concert Narration by Kevin Doyle Orchestrations by Ricky Ian Gordon and Bruce Coughlin Based on the novel by John Steinbeck Ted Sperling, Conductor and Director MasterVoices Chorus Orchestra of St. Luke’s Narrated by J. Smith-Cameron and Joe Morton Sound design by Scott Lehrer Costume design by Tracy Christensen Lighting design by Brian Tovar Projections by Wendall K. Harrington Stage Management by Ira Mont   CAST TOM JOAD, a released prisoner, Kyle Oliver MA JOAD, Tom’s mother, Margaret Lattimore MAE, a waitress, Bryonha Marie
ROSE OF SHARON, Tom’s pregnant sister, Mikaela Bennett 
JIM CASY, a lapsed preacher, Victor Starsky PA JOAD, a tenant farmer, Nathan Gunn UNCLE JOHN, Pa’s brother, Malcolm MacKenzie CONNIE RIVERS, Rose of Sharon’s husband / RAGGED MAN / TRUCK DRIVER, Schyler Vargas NOAH, Tom’s slow-witted brother, Christian Pursell AL, his younger brother, John Brancy GRANMA, Pa and John’s mother, Jan Constantine GRAMPA, her husband, David Fleiss RUTHIE, Tom’s youngest sister, Ruby Waxman   Tickets priced from $30 - $155, may be purchased online at, by calling CarnegieCharge at 212.247.7800 or in person at Carnegie Hall’s box office at 57th and Seventh Avenue.   Details of MasterVoices’ 2023-24 season can be found at  

Venue: Carnegie Hall

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