Upon this handful of Earth - World Premiere Opera

Fri. Feb 24, 2017 7:00pm - 9:00pm EST
All Ages
All Ages
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Gisle Kverndokk, composer
Aksel-Otto Bull and Gisle Kverndokk, libretto
K. Scott Warren, conductor
Joachim Schamberger, director
Isai Jess Muñoz, assistant director
Caitlin Rain, costumes
Nathan Scheuer, lighting

Shannon DeVine, The Priest
Nadia Petrella, soprano  The Young Woman
John Tiranno, tenor  The Young Man
Sara Murphy, mezzo-soprano  The Wife
Kenneth Overton, baritone  The Businessman
Sarah Hawkey, soprano  The Child

Choir and Children's Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola
New York Opera Society Orchestra

In honor of the publication of "Laudato Si," Pope Francis' recent encyclical about the environment, SMSS and The New York Opera Society (NYOS) have commissioned a new chamber opera from renowned Norwegian composer Gisle Kverndokk and librettist Aksel-Otto Bull based on the writings of Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. 

Inspired by and featuring Teilhard’s “Mass on the World,” Kverndokk’s opera tells the stories of people whose lives have been irrevocably altered by environmental catastrophes: Chernobyl, the tsunamis, pollution and climate change. The work offers a hopeful, empowering meditation on the way forward from the human and environmental toll of these events. 

This production has been made possible by Arts Council Norway/The Audio and Visual Fund, The Norwegian Composers Fund, The Lyric Writers Fund in Norway, The Dan & Gloria Bohan Foundation and The Arthur and May Orvis Foundation.

All performance dates, artists and programs subject to change. Tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable.


Baritone Shannon DeVine recently made his Carnegie Hall debut in Vaughn Williams' Donna Nobis Pacem  and was also  Michele in Il Tabarro with NY Vertical Players Repertory. The NY Times said “Mr. DeVine is a very impressive baritone in the role of Michele” and, “ can’t wait to see him on bigger and more important stages”. In 2012 he made his Opera Orchestra of New York debut under Eve Queler in the much acclaimed concert of Wagner’s Rienzi.  He has also performed Leporello in Don Giovanni and Ford in Falstaff at the Theatre Municipal in Toulouse, France, as well as Valentin in Faust, Marcello in La Boheme and Count di Luna in Il Trovatore with One World Symphony and Germont in La traviata with Opera Company of Brooklyn. Recent performances include Claudio in the US premier of Amleto by Franco Faccio in Baltimore and with Opera Southwest, Scarpia in Tosca at the Festival of the Aegean in Greece, and the world premiere of I tre compagni with Encompass Opera in New York and covered the role of Nelusco in L’Africaine for OONY , a company for which hye also  covered the role of Michonet in Adriana Lecouvreur and  that of Carlo Gerard in Andrea Chenier in 2013. Mr. DeVine earned his Master’s degree from the Julliard School, where he performed the roles of Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Silvio in I Pagliacci. His professional debut came at 19 years old as Prince Yamadori in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly with Connecticut Opera.  He has also appeared with the Aspen Opera Theater Center as Michele in Puccini’s Il Tabarro and Ford in Falstaff with Maestro Julius Rudel and Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte, Morales and El Dancaire with Houton Grand Opera in Ron Daniel’s new production of Carmen under Maestro Alain Lombard. Other roles with HGO include Riolobo in Florencia en las Amazonas, Top in Copland’s The Tender Land, Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte. Mr. DeVine is a winner of the 2007 Licia Albanese – Puccini Foundation Awards and winner of the Verdi Concerto Competition at the Aspen Music Festival and was at the Tanglewood Music Center in 2003 for his debut as Jose Tripaldi under the baton of Maestro Robert Spano in participation with Osvaldo Golijov’s world premiere opera Ainadamar.

Canadian soprano Nadia Petrella, praised for her “creamy voice” (New York Times) and acclaimed as “world class ... her demanding lines dazzling” (Buffalo News), is quickly being recognized as an exciting young lyric soprano.  Ms. Petrella most recently appeared as Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, and Frasquita in New York Opera Exchange’s Carmen (2015). She has also appeared as Patience in Paula Kimper’s Patience & Sarah, at the LGBT center in NYC in conjunction with Pride Week. Ms. Petrella has also appeared in the role of Violetta (La Traviata), Micaëla (Carmen), Rosina (The Barber of Seville), Lucy (The Telephone), First Lady (The Magic Flute), Lola (Gallantry), and Cathleen (Riders to the Sea). In concert, she has appeared as guest soloist with the Cathedral for the Holy Trinity (NYC), Ars Musica (Toronto, ON), Theatre lyrique de Gatineau (Gatineau, QC), CAMMAC, Musica Viva and the Carleton University Choir (Ottawa, ON), singing works such as Saent-Saëns’ Oratorio de Noël, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Fauré Requiem and Zelenka Mass. With CAMMAC she was the featured soloist in the 2010 world premiere of Canadian composer Dr. Deirdre Piper’s cantata The Canticles of Asaph.

Tenor John Tiranno has had his singing called “ardent and mellifluous” by The New York Times. 2016 engagements include Mahler's Symphony No. 8 (Oratorio Society of NY), Haydn's Creation (Masterwork Chorus), and concerts at both the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC (New York Opera Society) and in NYC (Music on Madison Concert Series). Notable past performances include Berlioz's Requiem (La Jolla Symphony & Chorus), Richard Strauss' Deutsche Motette (Musica Sacra), Saint-Saëns Requiem (Festival Internazionale di Musica e Arte Sacra), Mozart’s Missa in C (at Auditório Ibirapuera in São Paolo, Brazil), creating the role Trouble in Gisle Kverndokk's Max and Moritz (New York Opera Society), Bach's B minor Mass and the U.S. premiere of Juraj Filas’ Oratio Spei – Requiem (Sacred Music in a Sacred Space), Handel’s Messiah (Dayton Philharmonic), Paul Moravec’s The Blizzard Voices (Oratorio Society of New York), and recitals at King Abdullah University of Science & Technology in Jedda, Saudi Arabia, Mr. Tiranno resides in New York City. More information can be found at www.johntiranno.com.

Sara Murphy, “a gorgeous, deep, dark mezzo-soprano” (New York Times), is a concert, opera and recital artist who has been called “absolutely unforgettable for her versatility and ability to conquer any sensitive soul” (El Nacional, Dominican Republic). In October 2016, she will make her company and role debut at Opera Theater of Rome as Ulrica in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera under the baton of Jesús López-Cobos. Current season highlights include two appearances at New York City's Carnegie Hall: A Prayer for Peace with music of Leonard Bernstein and Turkish composer Ahmed Adnan Saygun with MidAtlantic Opera and Handel's Messiah with Oratorio Society of New York. Sara appears again with Oratorio Society of New York in two performances of Mahler's Symphony No. 8 "Symphony of a Thousand," one with full orchestra and one with a world premiere organ transcription by David Briggs. Sara returns to Cincinnati May Festival as Emilia in Verdi's Otello and mezzo soprano soloist in Mendelssohn's Elijah. The recently released recording of Hindemith's The Long Christmas Dinner on Bridge Records was named one of the "Top Ten Opera Recordings of 2015" in Opera News, and made the top of Arts Beat's playlist in the New York Times. Additionally, Opera News, The Guardian and Gramophone all praise her portrayal of Mother Bayard and Ermengarde: “Sara Murphy’s closing aria as Ermengarde ... is marvellously poignant,” writes Gramophone.

Kenneth Overton is lauded for blending his opulent baritone with magnetic and varied portrayals that seemingly “emanate from deep within body and soul.” Heralded by the BBC for his “exceptional voice,” Kenneth made his New York City Opera mainstage debut in 2012 as Doctor Grenvil in Verdi’s La Traviata. That season, Kenneth also made an acclaimed debut in the world premiere of David Ott’s The Widow’s Lantern at Pensacola Opera, whereby he was immediately re-engaged to star as Joe in Showboat. 2012–13 included debuts with New Jersey Symphony (Bruckner Te Deum) and Tacoma Symphony Orchestra (Verdi concert). In collaboration with pianist Kevin Miller, Kenneth released his first solo CD in the fall of 2013.  Been In De Storm So Long:  Songs My Fathers Taught Me, is his homage to the spiritual tradition that has been formative in his artistic life.  In step with this legacy, Kenneth is also co-founder and artistic director of Opera Noire of New York, a performing arts organization created to empower African-American artists to reach their full creative potential in a creative supportive environment.

Soprano Sarah Hawkey believes that to sing is to breathe love into the world, and that by co-creating art in which each person's unique creative gifts are celebrated, music is a model for greater world peace. Sarah’s singing is praised for its “clarity, precision, and power” and her interpretations are lauded as “transformational.” Sarah’s specialty in early and new music leads to performances ranging from 13th-century French chansons to world premieres by living composers. The 2016-2017 season includes Sarah's debut in Mozart’s Mass in C Minor, Vivaldi’s Dixit Dominus, Bach’s Magnificat, and Haydn's Mariazeller Messe, as well as the world premiere of a new song cycle by long-time collaborator David Sisco, and the inaugural concerts of Perennia, in which Sarah performs love songs by Purcell and Dowland with a chamber ensemble of harp, lute, and theorbo.  Her next Gotham Early Music Scene appearance is with Concordian Dawn, performing the music of Machaut. Highlights from Sarah's world premiere performances include Surprisingly Poetic Moments from an Otherwise Typical Hiking Guidebook, a song cycle by Abraham Z. Morrison; I will not go, a duet with violin by Pamela Stein-Lynde; and Drawing Down the Moon, an opera by Hunter Long, as well as Bach’s Wir danken dir Gott, Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, and Vivaldi’s In furore iustissime irae. Please visit sarahhawkey.com to learn more.  

Hailed by the New York Times as “a finely polished, stylistically nimble ensemble,” the Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola is comprised of New York’s finest professional choral singers. The Choir’s “tremendous expressive and dynamic range” and “remarkable vocal discipline and finesse” (the New York Times) is featured in the Sacred Music in a Sacred Space concert series, now in its 27th season. Each member is a soloist in his or her own right in a variety of genres including early music, opera, oratorio and contemporary repertoire. The core group of 19 members sings a demanding schedule of weekly parish worship services in a wide range of repertoire, with particular emphasis on new works, the sacred Renaissance repertoire, and Gregorian chant. The Choir may be heard on recordings for the MSR Classics and AMDG labels. In March 2006, the Choir was invited as the headline chorus at the Southwestern American Choral Directors Association convention in St. Louis, Missourri. In April 2009, the Choir performed in the opening festival of radio station WNYC’s new Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, on a concert bill with René Pape, John Zorn, Ute Lemper, and Nico Muhly.

Since 2011, St. Ignatius Loyola Director of Music Ministries K. Scott Warren has led a dynamic music team consisting of over 150 individuals, professional and volunteer, in providing music at approximately 400 liturgies annually. He is the principal conductor of the 19-voice professional Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola, which sings a demanding schedule of services throughout the year, with repertoire spanning Gregorian chant to 21st-century masterpieces. The choir, along with the Orchestra of St. Ignatius Loyola, form the backbone of the parish’s critically acclaimed concert series, Sacred Music in a Sacred Space, whose recent performances have been lauded by the New York Times as “stirring...positively thrilling” and “broad, wide-ranging, and powerful.” In addition to the vast choral spectrum presented at St. Ignatius, Mr. Warren presides over the four manual, 91-rank N. P. Mander Organ, the largest mechanical action organ in the New York metro area, and an instrument of international stature.

Gisle Kverndokk is one of Norway's foremost composers of musical theatre. His works have been performed all over Norway, Germany as well as in Canada and the USA. His opera Around the world in 80 days was commissioned for the opening of the new opera house in Oslo, and premiered there in 2010. Kverndokk has written two children's opera for New York Opera Society: Max and Moritz (2010) and Supersize Girl (2013). He also has an extensive production of symphonic works, chamber music, church music and film music, and has collaborated with all the major orchestras in Norway. He is educated at The Norwegian Academy of Music, Oslo, and The Juilliard School, New York City.

Aksel-Otto Bull is a Norwegian stage director and playwright. He has directed over 60 theatre productions in theatres all over Norway. He has been artistic director of The National Theatre in Bergen, and has for many years worked at the theatre education at The Nordic Institute for Stage and Studio and The Bårdar Academy in Oslo. He is educated at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, LAMDA, and Drama Studio London. Bull and Kverndokk's first opera collaboration was the opera Easter commissioned by The Bergen National Opera. It was premiered in 2014 at Kilden, Kristiansand, directed by Aksel-Otto Bull. Their next collaboration was the musical Ruth Maier, commissioned by Music Theatre Forum in Oslo. It was presented at New York Theatre Barn’s New Work Series 2015, in New York City.

Joachim Schamberger works internationally as a Stage Director and Video Designer. His productions have appeared in the United States, Germany, Italy, France, the Czech Republic, Brazil, Norway, Israel, Japan and China. In addition to directing and designing, he serves as Visiting Professor of Opera at DePauw University and is frequently invited to teach at music festivals and conservatories throughout the world. Mr. Schamberger is a graduate of the Musikhochschule in Würzburg, the Merola Opera Program of the San Francisco Opera, and studied digital film production and 3-D animation at the New York Film Academy. Born in Germany, he currently lives in New York City.

Lauded by the press for his "extraordinary blend of colorful voice and powerful stage presence," tenor Isai Jess Muñoz has appeared with New York City Opera, New York Philharmonic, American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre at City Center, Israel Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta, Verbier Festival in Switzerland, and many more organizations around the world. Muñoz is a graduate of the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, and SUNY Stony Brook.  As a member of the voice and opera faculty at the University of Delaware, Dr. Muñoz serves as director of undergraduate opera workshop performances and curriculum.  Muñoz serves as Chair and Senior Editor of the Sacred in Opera Initiative of the National Opera Association which serves to study and disseminate the interplay between ideologies of world religions and opera.  Visit: www.JessMunoz.com

Caitlin Rain is a costume designer from Dallas, Texas. Recent projects include Coriolanus (Stella Adler Studios), Awake and Sing! (Olney Theatre Center), and The Bomb-itty of Errors (Second Thought Theater). Assistant design work includes productions with Santa Fe Opera, Saito Kinen Festival, Boston Ballet, and numerous regional theaters. She has an MFA from Southern Methodist University. This is her first project with the New York Opera Society.


  • DOORS OPEN at 6:15 PM for a 7 PM concert start time.

  • LATE SEATING is at the discretion of the House Management. Latecomers may be asked to remain in the back of the church until there is a break in the program, so as not to disturb the performance or other audience members.

  • WILL CALL is available when the doors open at 6:15 PM inside the main doors of the church.

  • CHILDREN seated on an adult's lap do not need a ticket. Children seated in a chair or pew need a ticket. 

  • We no longer offer tickets for sale or any ticket pickup at the Parish House Reception desk.

  • Audio and/or video recording and flash photography are not permitted during performances.


  • The Church of St. Ignatius Loyola is wheelchair/walker accessible via the ramp entrance on 84th Street (between Park and Madison Avenues).

  • The restrooms are NOT easily accessible by wheelchair. The most easily accessible restrooms are in the Parish House (980 Park Avenue). There are two steps down from the street level into the Parish House and there is a restroom on that ground floor.

  • For reserved seating concerts, there is available seating for wheelchairs and companions. Please look for the Wheelchair and Wheelchair Companion tickets when purchasing. For general seating concerts, follow the directions of the ushers. Please call ahead (212-288-2520) to discuss any special seating requirements.


  • Street parking can be difficult to find, but there are a number of parking garages nearby. There are garages on 83rd Street (between Park and Lexington Avenues) and 84th Street (between Park and Lexington Avenues), as well as near the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


  • There are a number of fine and casual eating establishments located nearby on Madison Avenue (one block west of the church), Lexington Avenue (one block east of the church), Third Avenue (two blocks east of the church) and Second Avenue (three blocks east of the church).


  • The Church of St. Ignatius Loyola is easily reached via the 4, 5, and 6 subway lines (86th Street station), or buses on Madison, Lexington and Fifth Avenues, and on 86th Street.


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Church of St. Ignatius Loyola 980 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10028