Scenes from Cooperstown – a jazz opera by Sasha Matson

Sasha Matson; Various Artists, Cooperstown: Jazz Opera in Nine Innings

The story of Cooperstown is an American story about the great American pastime–baseball. It speaks to the heart of Americans, how our passions easily and guilelessly blur or tear us apart.

Baseball, more than any other major league sport, is deeply woven into the fabric of American culture. It is a metaphor for life.

Sasha Matson, composer

Opera and baseball? Opera and jazz? Yeah. An opera about one heart too big and one heart too small that plays out like a present-day Othello, of passion and obsession, and the regret over choices not taken. Cooperstown is a masterful expression of jazz in the Miles Davis tradition.

“It breaks your heart.” That was the poetic language A. Bartlett Giamatti used in his beautiful essay The Green Fields of the Mind, and I am pleased that the Giamatti estate gave us permission to use his text. I began to work backward from there in the fall of 2000.

American (in)Tent is pleased to feature Sasha Matson’s brilliant recording with the incredible American opera singers, Rod Gilfry, Julie Adams, Carin Gilfry, Daniel Montenegro, and Daniel Favela singing this challenging and alluring score. Our thanks to their artistry and for being a part of the American (in)Tent ethos and virtual presence this year at the Edinburgh Fringe 2021.

Whose heart? How was it broken?

In Giamatti ‘s thinking, baseball is a game but al so an art form, with the capacity to express the deepest emotional truths about individuals and society. One has only to pick up the sports pages to see this dynam io acted out against the econ om io and cultural realities of our time.
Baseball has its own speoi fie hi storioal m usi­oal attributes. One of them is the sound of the stadium organ. That sound led me quickly to scoring the music for a Miles jazz quintet. This particular grouping of instruments is as capable as any large orchestra of realizing music in all its potential variety. The musical materials boil down to the rising three-chord Charge fanfare still heard in stadiums every­where, which can be turned to the dark side by becoming an altered dominant harmony.
Early on in the composing process I had a sonic picture in my ear of what a finished recording of Cooperstown might sound like. I used as a model the great Blue Note stereo recordings of the late ’50s and early ’60s engineered by Rudy Van Gelder. Trumpet hard left, saxophone hard right-then added the vocal cast of five. —-Sasha Matson


Sasha Maston

Sasha Maston

Sasha Matson was born in Seattle, and grew up in Berkeley, California. As an undergraduate he attended the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where his primary composition teachers were Elinor Armer and John Adams – later studying privately with Andrew Imbrie. Sasha completed graduate studies at UCLA, where he received the PhD in music theory and Learn More

Rod Gilfry

Rod Gilfry

The two-time Grammy nominee, singer and actor has performed in all the world’s music capitals and appears on over 30 recordings. He is acclaimed world-wide in opera, musicals, recitals and cabaret. An important part of his 75-role repertoire are the 12 leading roles he has created in new operas. Recent performances include the Los Angeles Learn More

Julie Adams

Julie Adams

A winner of the 2014 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, 2015 George London Award, 2015 Elizabeth Connell prize for aspiring dramatic sopranos, and recipient of a 2015 Sara Tucker Study Grant, soprano Julie Adams has been praised by the New York Times for possessing a voice that is “rich, full and slightly earthy in an Learn More

daniel montenegro

Daniel Montenegro

An exciting and talented tenor, appearances include Mario in Daniel Catan Il Postino at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris alongside Placido Domingo, marking his European opera debut, and Pang in Concert performances of Turandot at the Hollywood Bowl, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. Other recent appearances include N orino in Lelisir damore with the Merola Learn More

Daniel Favela

Daniel Favela

Daniel Favela started his singing career at Riverside City College under the direction of John Byun. While there he obtained his performance certificate in music and transferred to Cal State Long Beach to study under the direction of John Talberg and Steven Kronauer. Daniel has performed all over Southern California in such venues as the Learn More

Carin Gilfry

Carin Gilfry

Carin Gilfry is an experienced voice actor who voiced thousands of commercials, instructional videos, IVR systems, eLearning programs, documentaries, and video games, and narrated and produced over 100 audiobooks. Carin began her career as singer. She studied at the USC Thornton School of Music and The Juilliard School. She sings in every style including classical, Learn More

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