UM’s Frost Opera Theater Premieres “Entanglements” by Charles Norman Mason at the Lowe Art Museum

April 08, 2013 — Coral Gables — The University of Miami Frost School of Music announces its Frost Opera Theater’s 2012-2013 season will conclude April 18-21 with the premiere of a new opera by composer Charles Norman Mason entitled Entanglements that examines the types of personal, family, work and political relationships that can evolve and entwine over time. With a run time of approximately two hours in length, there are five scenes that occur simultaneously in adjacent architectural spaces. The production features 19 vocalists accompanied by sparse contemporary orchestrations on instruments such as synthesizer, piano, marimba, and saxophone quartet. The audience may choose to experience the scenes in any order they wish (and for as long as they wish), much like strolling through an art museum’s many galleries, or the types of non-linear interactions that occur on social media sites. Surfing or skipping scenes is allowed—and even encouraged— providing each audience member with a unique narrative experience. Three “blogging” characters also offer vocal commentary throughout the experience.

Four major roles in Entanglements include Sulla, a political dictator who wrestles with his conscience as he wields control over his protesting subjects; Akala, a successful artist who stops painting, disenchanted after witnessing the dictator’s atrocities against humanity, then takes up her art again in a new style in an effort to voice her opposition, even at the risk of alienating her own family; Marcus, a soap opera star who seeks to bring more realism to his work, only to experience artistic censorship and the threat of losing his job; and Janice, an epileptic who faces brain surgery to separate the two hemispheres of her brain that could either improve her seizures or plunge her into oblivion. Composer Charles Mason then entangles their lives throughout the opera in inexplicable ways, much like the namesake phenomenon in physics in which “two entities are inexorably linked no matter how far away from each other they may be.” [Entanglement: The Greatest Mystery in Physics by Amir D. Aczel]

Students from the Department of Vocal Performance at the Frost School of Music will perform all roles. The opera will be staged in five different galleries throughout the University of Miami’s Lowe Art Museum, 1301 Stanford Drive, Coral Gables. There will be three performances in all: Thursday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 21 at 4:00 p.m. General admission is $10. Admission is free for all UM Students, Faculty, Staff, as well as Lowe Members.

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Dr. Charles Norman Mason teaches composition at the Frost School of Music. He often composes works that have a parallel with architecture or a physical space, or that affect the flow of people through time and space. He calls this area of interest “Music for Porous Architecture.” He has written a number of pieces contemplating what it means to take into consideration the architectural space within which the work will appear.

Mason also describes his composition style as Hyper-Connectivism. He elaborates, “The word connective refers to the idea of disparate parts working together towards a common goal. The term hyper refers to, on the one hand, the edge where great things happen; and on the other hand to the point where at any moment, all could fall into disarray, the border right before chaos.”

He has combined both concepts in his opera Entanglements. “Since scenes are occurring simultaneously, a one hour performance is actually four hours of music,” he explains. “If the scenes were presented sequentially, it would be a Wagnerian-length opera, but since five scenes occur simultaneously, it only lasts an hour or two, depending on how much the audience chooses to experience.”

In a rare feat, Mason authored both the libretto and composed the music for Entanglements in a single summer, directly after receiving a University of Miami Provost Research Grant to do so in 2012.

While Mason was composing Entanglements, he also composed a youth symphony, and a new work for the chamber ensemble Pulse, which they premiered in Rome in October 2012. He is currently working on a commission for the Ritz String Quartet and a piece for flute and string orchestra for the North/South New Music Ensemble that will be premiered in New York in June 2013.

Mason has received many awards for his compositions including the American Composers Orchestra “Playing it Unsafe” prize, the 2005 Rome Prize (Prix du Rome), the Premi Internacional de Composició Musical Ciutat de Tarragona Orchestra Music prize, and a National Endowment of the Arts Individual Artist Award. His music is published by Living Artist Publishing and is available on ten different compact disc recordings. For further information about Dr. Mason please visit his website.

All artists, schedules, times and locations are subject to change without notice. Please refer to for the most current event information.

About the Frost Opera Theater

Frost Opera Theater recognizes that today’s opera world is vibrant, eclectic, and ever changing—offering tomorrow’s opera singer multiple career choices of tradition and innovation.

Under the supervision of music director Alan Johnson, the Frost Opera Theater’s performance activities reflect the broad range of programming in the twenty-first century, from Baroque opera to the most progressive works of our time. Recent repertoire has included The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro, Cosi fan tutte, Bastien and Bastienne (Mozart), Dido and Aeneas (Purcell), The Beggar’s Opera (Gay/arr. Britten), The Merry Widow (Lehár), L’enfant et les sortilèges (Ravel), Albert Herring (Britten), and the Florida premieres of Strawberry Fields (Torke) and Ballymore, Part One: Winners (Wargo).

Frost Opera Theater was recognized by Classical Singer magazine (“Acting and Dancing for Singers,” September 2009) for its efforts to address the needs of today’s emerging opera singers. Frost Opera Theater performed excerpts from Libby Larsen’s Frankenstein: the Modern Prometheus in New York City under the auspices of the Center for Contemporary Opera in February 2011.

About Frost School of Music

The Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music is one of two schools created in 1926 when the University of Miami was founded. With over 700 students and 100 faculty, it is one of the largest and best music schools located in a private university in the U.S., and one of the most comprehensive in all of higher education. The naming gift from Dr. Phillip and Patricia Frost in 2003 was one of the historic highlights in the life of the School.

The mission of the Frost School of Music is to foster musical leadership by providing an innovative, relevant, and inspiring education; advance performance, creativity and scholarship; and enrich the world community with meaningful outreach and brilliant cultural offerings.

The Frost School has pioneered new curricula and was the first in the nation to offer professionally accredited bachelor and master degrees in Music Business and Music Engineering Technology, was among the first to offer degrees in Music Therapy, and Studio Music and Jazz. Renowned for its Instrumental Performance programs, it is the home of the Frost Chamber Orchestra, Frost Symphony Orchestra, and Frost Concert Jazz Band and is a leader in vocal training with the Frost Opera Theater, Frost Chorale and other notable choirs.

Frost is the exclusive home of the Frost Experiential Music Curriculum which fully integrates performance, music theory, ear training, music history and composition through chamber music and skills ensembles; the Henry Mancini Institute which provides students with cross-genre performance opportunities in real-world professional settings; the Stamps Family Distinguished Visitors Series which brings free music master classes and lectures to the community; and the Bruce Hornsby Creative American Music Program which develops the creative skills of talented young artist/songwriters by immersing them in the diverse traditions of American songwriting.

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