By Deb Miller for DC Metro Theater Arts
The last installment of MasterVoices’ free season-long digital take on Adam Guettel’s theatrical song cycle Myths and Hymns – which was nominated for a 2021 Drama League Award in the category of Outstanding Digital Concert Production for Chapters 1 and 2 (both of which premiered before the awards’ eligibility deadline of March 15) – will launch on Wednesday, May 26, at 6:30 pm. Conceived for online staging by MasterVoices’ Artistic Director and Conductor Ted Sperling, the four-part series, exploring the nature of faith and longing in a secular world, illuminates the search for answers via personal journeys through Flight, Work, Love, and Faith, in the format of 24 short musical films showcasing more than 200 artists.
In Faith, the cycle’s fourth and final chapter, NYC-based Tony Award-winning composer/lyricist Guettel, inspired by ancient Greek mythology and a 19th-century Presbyterian hymnal, considers the possibility of finding fulfillment through belief in something bigger. Beginning in a place of isolation, the protagonist moves to paradise, where all problems are solved, to believing that God will come to the rescue, to realizing that fulfillment must come from an internal change, through the reconciliation of desire and acceptance.
The 20-minute stream features performances by the MasterVoices chorus; guest star soloists Anthony Roth Costanzo, Jennifer Holliday, Mykal Kilgore, Theresa McCarthy, Miles Mykkanen, Kelli O’Hara, Larry Owens, Nicholas Phan, and The Gospel Soul Children of New York; dancers Emma Lou DeLaney, Milan Magaña, Justine Rafael, and Katja Stoer; and an orchestra composed of Chuck Wilson, Dan Willis, and John Winder on woodwinds, Larry Lunetta on trumpet, Antoine Silverman on violin, Steve Bargonetti on guitar, Douglas Romoff on bass, Norbert Goldberg on percussion, and Todd Ellison on piano.
The short musical films are directed by Anthony Roth Costanzo, Trip Cullman, Andrew Palermo, and Ted Sperling, who also created all choral arrangements for the production, with visuals provided by artists Erik Freer and Artolution (Max Frieder, Co-founder and Executive Director), and music orchestrations for all chapters by Don Sebesky and Jamie Lawrence.
Song and film segments of Faith comprise:
“The Great Highway” – MasterVoices; Kelli O’Hara, soloist; Anthony Roth Costanzo, soloist; Nicholas Phan, soloist; Anthony Roth Costanzo, director; Erik Freer, visual artist;
“There’s a Land” – MasterVoices; Theresa McCarthy, soloist; Miles Mykkanen, soloist; Emma Lou DeLaney, Milan Magaña, Justine Rafael, and Katja Stoer, dancers; Andrew Palermo, director and choreographer;
“There’s a Shout” – MasterVoices; The Gospel Soul Children of New York (Bishop Dr. Derek Roberts, director); Jennifer Holliday, soloist; Ted Sperling, director; visual art provided by Artolution and Max Frieder;
“Awaiting You” – Mykal Kilgore, soloist; Ted Sperling, director;
“Saturn Returns: the Return” – MasterVoices; Larry Owens, soloist; Trip Cullman, director; and
“Light after Darkness” (Encore) – MasterVoices; select soloists from all chapters.
On the evening prior to the public launch of Faith, MasterVoices will host a private virtual screening with additional content featuring Sperling and some of the artists. For more information, click here. Following the launch, all four chapters will be available for on-demand streaming until June 30, on the MasterVoices website and YouTube channel. There is no registration required to view the free digital performances.