Boston, MA — Hailed by The New York Times as one of the nation’s most intriguing opera companies,” Odyssey Opera, in partnership with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), presents the New England premiere of Dominick Argento’s opera The Voyage of Edgar Allan Poe, on Friday, April 5, 2024, in Poe’s birthplace of Boston. In a one-night only, semi-staged production, Grammy Award-winning conductor Gil Rose leads a formidable cast including tenor Peter Tantsits playing the lead role of Poe, the Odyssey Opera chorus, the acclaimed BMOP orchestra, and more. A world premiere studio recording will follow on BMOP/sound (TBR 2025).

Known for resurrecting neglected operas, Odyssey Opera offers this new production of a 1976 work that has not been performed in 34 years. “Poe lapsed into obscurity after its last performance in 1990. It is astonishing that this work has not been performed since,” says Gil Rose, conductor and artistic director of both Odyssey Opera and BMOP. “Dominick Argento is, for me, one of the true heroes of American opera… his music is of such a high quality that it’s kind of a crime that his praises aren’t sung even louder. We invite everyone to enjoy this masterpiece by a master of contemporary American opera!” 

Taking its point of departure from Poe’s bizarre and subsequent deadly sail at sea, Poe takes audiences on a hallucinatory voyage of discovery. In 1849, the ill and feverish Poe—his creativity and inspiration in the doldrums after his wife Virginia’s death two years prior—sailed from Richmond to Baltimore. Less than a week later, he died, dissolute and destitute, at the age of 40. “Despite the construct of a watery voyage, this is really a journey of a frayed and feverish imagination, with fragments of Poe’s works intruding upon his life story.” (The New York Times)

Commissioned by the Minnesota Opera in 1974 to write an opera in honor of America’s Bicentennial, Argento settled on the subject of Edgar Allan Poe, seemingly the first American artist to achieve international significance. The composer noted that after learning about “the mysterious voyage that led to the author’s death—as bizarre as any story Poe himself had written—Charles Nolte was eager to do the libretto. Shaping a libretto, given the many characters in Poe’s writings and his life, plus the poetry we might incorporate, was a lengthy affair, requiring quite a few months before the libretto would be exactly what I wanted.”

The premiere garnered rave reviews: “Poe is Argento’s eighth opera and as fine as any ever written by an American” (TIME); “Looking back in decades to come, the spring of ’76 may mark the coming of age in American operas” (Opera News); “a distinct success” (The New Yorker). Although the production toured throughout Europe and was heard in three U.S. cities (Baltimore, St. Paul, and Chicago), it vanished for more than three decades.

American composer Dominick Argento was born to Sicilian immigrants in 1927. Perhaps most recognized for his operatic and choral works, his song cycle From the Diary of Virginia Woolf earned him the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Music. His compositional style combines tonality, atonality and a lyrical approach to 12-tone writing within a predominately tonal palette. In 2010, BMOP released the premiere recording of Argento’s 1973 work Jonah and The Whale (BMOP/sound). During Odyssey Opera’s 2014-15 season, it staged a double-bill of works by Argento: Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night; and A Water Bird Talk followed by its premiere recording of Argento’s three one-act operas (Released 2018).

About Odyssey Opera       
Founded in 2013 by artistic director/conductor Gil Rose, Odyssey Opera presents adventurous and eclectic works that affirm opera as a powerful expression of the human experience. Its world-class artists perform the operatic repertoire from its historic beginnings through lesser-known masterpieces to contemporary new works and commissions in varied formats and venues. Odyssey Opera takes its audience on a journey to places they’ve never been before. odysseyopera.org

About BMOP
The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) is the premier orchestra in the United States dedicated exclusively to commissioning, performing, and recording music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. A unique institution of crucial artistic importance to today’s musical world, BMOP exists to disseminate exceptional orchestral music of the present and recent past via performances and recordings of the highest caliber. Founded by Artistic Director Gil Rose in 1996, eight-time Grammy-nominated BMOP has championed composers whose careers span nine decades. Each season, Rose brings BMOP’s award-winning orchestra, renowned soloists, and influential composers to the stage of New England Conservatory’s historic Jordan Hall in a series that offers orchestral programming of unrivaled eclecticism. Musical America’s 2016 Ensemble of the Year, BMOP was awarded the 2021 Special Achievement Award from Gramophone Magazine as “an organization that has championed American music of the 20th and 21st century with passion and panache.” The musicians of BMOP are consistently lauded for the energy, imagination, and passion with which they infuse the music of the present era. BMOP.org

About Gil Rose        
Gil Rose is one of today’s most trailblazing conductors, praised as “amazingly versatile” (The Boston Globe) with “a sense of style and sophistication” (Opera News). Equally at home performing core repertoire, new music, and lesser-known historic symphonic and operative works, “Gil Rose is not just a fine conductor, but a peerless curator, sniffing out—and commissioning—off-trend, unheralded, and otherwise underplayed repertoire, that nevertheless holds to unfailingly high standards of quality. In doing so, he’s built an indefinable, but unmistakable, personal aesthetic” (WQXR). A global leader in American contemporary music, Grammy Award-winner Rose is the founder of the performing and recording ensemble the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), who “bring an endlessly curious and almost archaeological mind to programming…with each concert, each recording, an essential step in a better direction” (The New York Times), as well as the founder of Odyssey Opera, praised by The New York Times as “bold and intriguing.” GilRoseConductor.com

Dominick Argento: The Voyage of Edgar Allan Poe (1975-76)

Composer: Dominick Argento (1927-2019)
Librettist: Charles Nolte (1923-2010)
Edgar Allan Poe: Peter Tantsits (tenor)
Griswold.: Tom Meglioranza (baritone)
Virginia Poe: Maggie Finnegan (soprano)
Doctor: Neal Ferreira (tenor)
Mrs. Poe: Kirsten Arnold (soprano)
Mrs. Clemm: Felicia Gavilanes (mezzo-soprano)
Mrs. Allan: Christina English (mezzo-soprano)
Director: Anne Harley
Theatre Director: David Salsbery Fry
Conductor: Gil Rose
Musicians: Boston Modern Orchestra Project and Odyssey Opera chorus # # #


When: Friday, April 5, 2024, at 8:00 p.m.

Where: Huntington Theatre, 264 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA,
T: Green to Symphony.

Tickets: General: $35 and Up/Students: $15. For more information, please visit OdysseyOpera.org or call 617.826.1626.