George Plimpton, Music by Kitty Brazelton, Directed by Grethe Barrett Holby


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Terry Kippenberger

Mainstage Productions


CAT: The Opera-Musical

The Central Park Zoo

Story and Lyrics by George Plimpton, Music by Kitty Brazelton,

Directed by Grethe Barrett Holby
New York, NY -- The World Premiere of CAT: The Opera-Musical, will be held on Sunday, September 19th
at The Central Park Zoo. The performance will take place after the feeding of the Sea Lions at 2:15 p.m.
is the tale of Dr. McGee’s patient, CAT, who discovers through the world of letters, that we all have something unique and special to offer. Written by author George Plimpton, composed by Kitty Brazelton, and directed by Grethe Barrett Holby, this 45 minute opera has the audience - adults and children alike - singing and creating live sound-effects, becoming an instant chorus and orchestra. Featured are Claire Neumann in the title role of CAT, Nathan Resika as Dr. McGee, and Kirsten Hopkins & Matthew Musgrove as the Veterinarian’s Assistants under the musical direction of David Wolfson; and designed by Ray Wetmore and Camille Asaaf.

Date: Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Time: 2:15 pm – 3:30 pm (After the sea lion feeding), near the Sea Lion Habitat

Fee: Performance is free with admission to the Zoo

Adults - $12.00 Children - $7.00 Seniors (65+) - $9.00 Children under 3 are free
Family Opera Initiative is the premiere company in the United States creating new, high-quality opera works for family audiences. The company was founded by Grethe Barrett Holby to create a substantial new repertory for family audiences, with the goal of bringing the opera experience to a widely diverse audience, and the commitment to engage the community in the process and performance of work - work that Enchants, Challenges and Inspires, with subject matter that matters.

This commission was made possible with generous donations by Jane A. Gross & The Jaffe Family Foundation.

CAT was developed with generous support by the AKC Fund, Pam & Bill Michaelcheck, Atlantic Center for the Arts, and & . Supporting this production is the Norfolk Children's Foundation, Michelle and Star Childs, and Thinkso Creative.

SYNOPSIS of CAT: The Opera Musical

This 45 minute, participatory opera-musical tells the story of Dr. Alfred J. McGee’s pet patient CAT, who has discovered she’s unique because her name contains only three letters, while other animals are saddled with more: Duck (4), Horse (5), Parrot (6), Goldfish (7), Hippopotamus (12), and Boa-Constrictor with 14!

When the other animals rudely point out that DOG, PIG and - horror of all horrors! - RAT share her fame, only 3 letters in their name, Cat is forlorn. But Dr. McGee sends Cat out on an expedition - to the library, to find “long long words in whose insides a cat hides.” A devastating hurricane strikes, and Dr. Magee agonizes over his decision to send Cat out into the wild and wide world.

But Cat survives, returning passionately, if a little wet, full of words containing the letters C-A-T: CATaract, CATastrophe, CATaclysmal…. compliCATed, dupliCATed, sophistiCATed; words which would not survive without CAT inside. Now, having found herself, she is a book-worm cat, “so happy being me!!”
Full of humor, light-heartedness, gaiety, and imagination, this gentle tale set to uproarious music propels the young and the young at heart to spread their wings, widen their horizons, and seek beyond themselves, not to mention explore adventures in the world of letters.


GEORGE PLIMPTON (Story & Libretto) was one of the most respected writers, journalists, and editors of the 20th century. In 1953, he became the first editor in chief to the influential literary journal, The Paris Review, a position he held until his death in 2003. A fearless adventurer into life’s possibilities, Plimpton defined the role of the participatory journalist, writing such popular best sellers as Out Of My League (baseball), Paper Lion (football), and Open Net (hockey). While on one of many assignments for Sports Illustrated, Plimpton sparred for three rounds with boxing greats Archie Moore and Sugar Ray Robinson. Many of these events were presented as a series on ABC, including playing sleigh bells, triangle, bass drum and gong under Leonard Bernstein for the New York Philharmonic. ANIMAL TALES was his last major work, written for Family Opera Initiative, and CAT is one of his eight animal tales. George was an insightful, joyous and inspiring team member. He died shortly after completing the libretto. We have missed him.

KITTY BRAZELTON (Music) “Brazelton is a totalist composer, part of a generation that believes that there’s more than one way to compose and that all musical genres are available for use, from high modernism to downtown funk.” (Time Out) Operas: Hildegurls Electric Ordo Virtutum (Lincoln Center Festival ’98/AOP CD:Innova), Fireworks! (FOI/AOP), Animal Tales (FOI), and Cat (FOI/Central Park Zoo & Chautauqua) all with producer/director Grethe Holby. Piano concerto: Sleeping Out Doors (Järvi’s Absolute Ensemble); Chamber music: cyber-punk fantasia 5 dreams; marriage and works for Manhattan Brass Quintet, California EAR Unit; Choral music: for VocalEssence, O Joy, “…added a valuable new piece to the repertoire.” (Star Tribune) Boosey. She has led exploded rock bands Dadadah and Bat? (CBGB’s, etc), and has composed works for Kitchen House Blend and Relâche. Recordings on CRI & Innova. Ecclesiastes, A Modern Oratorio will be

released on Innova 10/2010.

GRETHE BARRETT HOLBY (Origin, Dramaturgy & Direction) "Strong, fresh and unabashed" (NY Times), Holby has been a driving force in new American opera for over 20 years, credited with “propelling opera into the 21st century” (NPR). Founding director of American Opera Projects and Ardea Arts/Family Opera Initiative, Holby has worked with many composers of our time including Leonard Bernstein (A Quiet Place/HGO, Kennedy Center, La Scala), Gian-Carlo Menotti (Kennedy Center), Lou Reed (The Kitchen), Vincent Persichetti (TPOT); Philip Glass (Einstein on the Beach/Met Opera). Opera: Lincoln Center Festival: Hildegurls’ Electric Ordo Virtutum (CD:Innova), and opera companies of Anchorage, Houston, Indianapolis, Lake George, Los Angeles, Memphis, North Carolina, Philadelphia, Toledo, Washington, Wolftrap.


Grethe Barrett Holby Founding Executive Artistic Director;

Founded by Holby in 1995 to create a substantial new repertory for family audiences, with the goals of bringing the opera experience to diverse audiences, and engaging the community in the process and performance of work, Family Opera Initiative is the premiere company in the US creating new, high-quality opera-works for family audiences: work that Enchants, Challenges and Inspires, with subject matter that matters.

FOI is a major initiative of Ardea Arts, a non-profit organization that commissions, develops, and produces new totalist opera with the contemporary audience in mind. FOI works in partnership with the Atlantic Center for the Arts FL, and has partnered with American Opera Projects, the renowned children’s theater TADA!, Fort Greene Park Conservatory, Montclair State University (Peak Performances), Orlando Youth Opera, Orlando Shakespeare Festival (Playfest), and the Parrish Art Museum (Southampton). FOI has commissioned four new operas for family audiences: Flurry Tale (Rusty Magee, Billy Aronson), Sir Gawain And The Green Knight (Richard Peaslee, Kenneth Cavander), Fireworks! (Kitty Brazelton, Billy Aronson), and Animal Tales, by George Plimpton, composer Kitty Brazelton, and director Grethe Holby. Cat: The Opera Musical is the final tale from Plimpton’s Animal Tales. Newly begun is an international collaboration based on a book by Umberto Eco and Eugenio Carmi, The Three Astronauts.

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