THE WHYDAH'S GOLD, A SEA OPERA ABOUT A COLONIAL PIRATE SHIP, DEBUTS IN FREE CONCERT AT QUEENS COLLEGE APRIL 30 AND MAY 1
-- Flushing Resident Bob Weller Is the Librettist --
NEW YORK, April 17, 2003 -- The Whydah’s Gold, a new opera with music by Richard Faith and libretto by Flushing resident Bob Weller, will be performed in concert at Queens College’s LeFrak Hall on April 30 at 7:30 PM and on May 1 at 2:00 PM. Admission is free and tickets are not required.
The new opera is based on the true, early-18th-century story of the swashbuckling American colonial pirate “Black Sam” Bellamy, his love of young Mariah Hallett, and the doomed pirate ship Whydah [pronounced WIDDA]. The enormous wealth of the Whydah, which was lost off the coast of Wellfleet, Cape Cod, in a terrifying storm in 1717, lay hidden offshore until it was discovered in 1984 by Barry Clifford, a maritime salvager and archaeologist. The story of the pirate ship and its recovery was the subject of a popular recent "National Geographic" television special and has been featured in The New York Times and other national media.
The Whydah’s Gold includes soaring arias, a chantey, lullabies, prayers, a storm, a huge tarantella production featuring drunken pirates and dreamy visions of their women, harrowing sirens, comic relief and stark tragedy.
Weller, assistant to the Queens College provost, had previously directed the world premiere of Faith’s opera The Little Match Girl in Washington, D.C. He has also directed Benjamin Britten’s Chester Cycle opera Noyes Fludde at the Washington National Cathedral and Gian-Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors in Annapolis and other musical and theatrical works.
Weller’s interest in sea lore developed, he says, while he was a professor of English at Annapolis in the 1970s, where he originated courses in sea literature. Prior to that, Weller served as an officer in the navy and worked with Armed Forces Radio/TV. In 1976, Weller (along with noted bibliophile Myron Smith) produced Sea Fiction Guide (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press), a comprehensive study of book-length, English-language nautical fiction. Weller has served at Queens College in various capacities since 1986, including director of Adult Collegiate Education, and, since 1999, assistant to the provost.
Richard Faith, the composer, has written a vast array of solo piano works and chamber music, four piano concerti, nearly 100 songs, several orchestral works, a Mass, a cantata, and four operas: Sleeping Beauty, The Little Match Girl, Beauty and the Beast, and now, The Whydah’s Gold.
The Wydah's Gold will be performed in LeFrak Concert hall, located in the music building of the nationally renowned Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. Professor Doris Lang Kosloff, who will direct the opera singers, has held numerous prominent positions in the opera world, including Executive Director of the Hartford Camerata Conservatory, Artistic Director and Managing Director of the Connecticut Opera and the Waterbury Opera Theatre.
Queens College is at Exit 24 on the Long Island Expressway in Flushing. For directions and additional information, call (718) 997-5780.
Attention, Media: For additional background information on the opera, the Wydah story, the performers and the creative team involved in the creation of the opera, call the Queens College Public Relations Office at (718) 997-5591 or 5590.