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Emily Dickinson opera coming to Medfield

Composer Eva Conley Kendrick’s chamber opera, “Emily,” will be performed in concert at First Parish of Medfield on October 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m. Kendrick, who has been the Director of Music at First Parish Medfield since 2006, is also a performer and music educator who runs the Eva Kendrick Voice Studio in Medfield.

Sponsored by the First Parish Medfield Church Worship & Music Committee, the concert opens with a collection of showtunes and art songs and is followed by a one-hour concert performance of “Emily.” Based on the life and poetry of Emily Dickinson, “Emily,” which blends opera and the lyrical simplicity of traditional American folk music, is a fitting choice for Medfield — Dickinson was a contemporary of Medfield composer Lowell Mason.

As both composer and librettist, Kendrick has interwoven actual events and people from Dickinson’s life with fictional characters. The opera explores the enigmatic Amherst poet’s psyche and suggests how the people in her life might have understood her through their interpretations of her poems. Emily Dickinson poems incorporated in the opera include “Of Bronze and Blaze,” “If you were coming in the fall,” and “I like a look of agony.”

The cast includes singers familiar to the Medfield area, as well as professional soloists. Medfield participants include husband and wife John and Becca Kornet in the two leading roles as Emily Dickinson and her fictitious friend. Both Kornets received degrees in vocal performance from Dartmouth College and perform regularly with Back Bay Chorale as choral members and soloists. Other Medfield residents include Fritz Fleischmann as Edward Dickinson, Meg Fisher as Lavinia Dickinson, and Roger Travis. Sarah Kathleen Dunn, a Boston-area vocalist, will portray Mabel Loomis Todd, the mistress of Emily’s brother, Austin. Kim Kasper, a Walpole resident who sings regularly at the Episcopal Church of Medfield and performs with Riverside Theatre Works, will portray Susan Dickinson, Emily’s best friend.

“Emily” premiered in 2001 at the Pasadena Balcony Theatre and has enjoyed subsequent performances at the EBEL of Los Angeles, the Mary K. Hail Music Mansion in Providence, and the Longfellow House Concert Series in Cambridge. In 2014, it was performed by the Thompson St. Opera Company in Louisville, KY. Kendrick’s awards include ASCAPLU$ Awards, American Composers Forum Subito Grant, the Judith Lang Zaimont Prize from the International Alliance of Women in Music, an Honorable Mention from the American Prize, and a Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant for her musical Operator which premiered at First Parish Medfield. Her choral works have been performed across the country as well.

For more on Kendrick and a full list of upcoming performances, visit www.evakendrick.com.

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