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After these performances, The Pleasing Recollection will make its New York City premiere at Feinstein’s 54 Below on April 5th & 6th.
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A Cabaret Opera
Martin Hennessy, Composer • Stephen Kitsakos, Librettist
Bénédicte Jourdois, Musical Director • Murphy Davis, Director
In the mid-1970s, a young man (portrayed by As One’s Michael Kelly) lands ashore in Manhattan without a map. Negotiating his way into a life in the performing arts, The Pleasing Recollection chronicles his musical adventures as he charmingly stumbles into some of the musical and theater giants of the era including Larry Kert, Leonard Bernstein, Charles Ludlum, and Aaron Copland among them. Librettist Stephen Kitsakos’s autobiographical story rolls forward with composer Martin Hennessy’s ingenious score. At the intersection of music and opera theater they create a playful, witty, and joyful tale.
The award-winning American baritone Michael Kelly has led a versatile and multifaceted career performing and concertizing with major international opera and theater companies in a wide-ranging repertoire including Jazz at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Geffen Hall, and the Kennedy Center. An interpreter of composers Bernstein, Sondheim and Ricky Ian Gordon, his repertoire includes appearances ranging from Passion in Paris to Kiss Me, Kate in St. Petersburg to the transgender character, Hannah Before, performing the role across the USA in As One, the most performed chamber opera in America today.
Martin Hennessy has received awards from ASCAP, Meet the Composer, the American Music Center, New Dramatists & The Estate Project for Artists with AIDS. His opera A Letter to East 11th St (with libretto by Mark Campbell) won the Domenic J. Pellicciotti Opera Composition Prize in 2014. Martin is devoted to building a bridge between American musical theater & opera. His works have been performed by Urban Arias, SongFest, Harvard Ballet, Guggenheim Works & in theaters and concert halls across the country. He collaborated with librettist Stephen Kitsakos on Single Occupancies which had its World Premiere at The Studios of Key West in 2020. He held conducting fellowship at Juilliard’s American Opera Center and served on the faculties of the Bel Canto Seminar & Bennington College. His education includes Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, the Juilliard School and Columbia University. The Cleveland Plain Dealer has written, “the songs of Martin Hennessy overflow with poignant and dramatic splendor.”
Stephen Kitsakos is a theater writer & librettist. He has received commissions from the NEA, the Smithsonian, the American Opera Project, the Seattle Opera & NYSCA among others. A member of the BMI Musical Theater Workshops, he was a contributing writer for The Sondheim Review. His libretto for the Tibetan-themed The White Rooster, with composer Sheila Silver, has been performed in the United States, Canada & in Central America. Recent work includes Single Occupancies with composer Martin Hennessy which premiered at The Studios of Key West in 2020 & his adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns, with composer Sheila Silver, will premiere on the MainStage at the Seattle Opera in Jan. 2023. Atlanta’s Peach Magazine has said “Kitsakos brings spontaneity and charm to his wicked and almost always witty deployment of wordcraft.”Mr. Kitsakos was a member of the Theatre Arts Faculty at SUNY New Paltz for fifteen years.
Bénédicte Jourdois is a pianist, vocal coach, French diction & vocal literature teacher. A graduate of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera she is currently on music staff at the Met Opera & Faculty at the Juilliard School. With Steven Blier, she directs the Schwab Vocal Rising Stars Series at Caramoor. Born in Paris, Ms Jourdois holds degrees from the Conservatoire National de Région de Saint-Maur, the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Lyon, Mannes College, and the Juilliard School. She has performed in numerous venues in Europe & the U.S. including Alice Tully & Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera Houston Grand Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Washington National Opera, Spoleto Festival USA & many others.