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Posted by on May 4, 2011 in Articles | 1 comment

Angel of the Amazon

by Evan Mack
This weekend the Encompass New Opera Theatre will present the world premiere of Angel of the Amazon. For me, it has been a six-year project from conception to the stage. This compelling new opera is based on the true story of Sister Dorothy Stang, an American missionary who devoted forty years to helping the indigenous peasant farmers of the Brazilian rainforest. In 2005, this 73-year-old nun was brutally murdered by assassins hired by the owner of a logging company, who felt her passion for the Earth and all of its gifts to be a threat to his bottom line. Angel of the Amazon depicts her life’s work and the events that set her on a path to martyrdom.
It has been a long journey giving a voice to her story. It started with extensive research and interviews with friends and fellow Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur who worked with her over her forty years of dedication. I had access to her letters from 1969 to a week before her murder. To fit 40-years of work into a two act opera was quite challenging. Typically, I write the music first, but I was very careful to set the story and libretto using her words, or reflections about her, for the entire opera.
Caitlin Mathes, the Lotte Lenya Competition winner, is performing the role of Sr. Dorothy. Her amazing talent has brought out more in the portrayal of the character than I could dream. She recreates the strength and warmth of the real life Dorothy so well that I sometimes have to blink extra hard to believe that it is still Caitlin. It is quite a demanding role and she keeps the attention from start to finish.
One of the main elements that brought an end to Dorothy’s life was a male-dominated society in Brazil. One of the main elements that made her mission succeed and still continue post-murder is that she empowered women…taught them how to plant things, take ownership of their lives, and educate themselves..and that is a story worth retelling.

To learn more about the world premiere of Angel of the Amazon or to purchase tickets, visit: www.AngeloftheAmazon.com

To learn more about composer Evan Mack, visit: www.EvanMack.com

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Evan Mack, composer

Evan Mack is the composer and librettist of Angel of the Amazon which premiered in May 2011 by Encompass New Opera Theatre at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York City. As an acclaimed pianist, he has toured all over the United States, Barcelona, and South Africa. He is currently published with Hal Leonard.

As a composer, he produced five full musicals (three of them for children’s theater), as well as numerous popular songs, and numerous classical works. He studied under Dr. Michael Slayton and Dr. Stan Link. His Choral Suite, Langston Hughes’ Dream of Freedom is a Selection Winner of the National Association of Composers, San Francisco and the UCM New Music Festival. The work is published by Hal Leonard. Hailed as “the Springtime Nutcracker,” Mack’s Pinocchio, premiered in the Charleston Civic Center by the Charleston Ballet. His work for Two Pianos, “American Groove” will be performed by the “Westhuizen Duo” all across the United States and South Africa throughout 2011.  The work was a Selection Winner for the SCI Regional Conference in 2010 and premiered in Greensboro, NC. His choir piece, Of Fire and Form, commissioned by the WV chapter of the ACDA premiered in February, 2011 at the Clay Center in Charleston WV and is currently on tour with the Marshall University Chamber Choir.

Most recently, Evan has performed in the Kentucky Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony Chamber Players, the Dayton Philharmonic, and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; including a performance in Carnegie Hall. He performed live for the Dame Myra Hess Concert Series at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Evan has studied with Michael Chertock of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and participated in master classes by George Crumb, Seymour Lipkin, Emanuel Ax, and James Tocco. He holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Piano Performance from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music and is on the faculty of the College of Saint Rose and Skidmore College.

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1 Comment

  1. I’ve heard excerpts from this opera and it is GORGEOUS! Evan is a wonderful composer, and extremely passionate about both music and the subject matter of this piece, which explores the life of a woman whose legacy still lives today….
    I can’t recommend going to see this highly enough!!

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