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Sept. 29, 2003 Contact: Bill Massolia
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Court Theatre

Court Theatre opens 49th season with world premiere opera, The Sound of a Voice, by Philip Glass and David Henry Hwang

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Click here for more information about Court Theatre's 2003-2004 season.

CHICAGO, August 4, 2003 - Court Theatre, under the leadership of Artistic Director Charles Newell and Executive Director Diane Claussen, opens its 2003-04 season with The Sound of a Voice, an opera by Philip Glass with libretto by David Henry Hwang and music by Philip Glass. The Sound of a Voice, a co-production with American Repertory Theatre in Boston and directed by Robert Woodruff, kicks off Court’s 49th season of breath-taking, re-imagined classics and world premieres.

Previews for The Sound of a Voice begin September 25, 2003. Press opening is Saturday October 4, at 8 p.m. Performances continue through November 2, 2003. Tickets to The Sound of a Voice range from $26-$50, and are on sale now. Reserve the best seats early for this opera by calling the Court Theatre Box Office, (773) 753-4472, stop by Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave., on the University of Chicago campus in Hyde Park, or purchase tickets online at

A music theatre piece inspired by Japanese ghost stories, The Sound of a Voice explores how intimacy is achieved between people who live in seclusion. Alone and emotionally guarded, the characters in this hauntingly elegant chamber piece are slowly drawn out of isolation by the sound of another person’s voice. “Anything you say, I will enjoy hearing,” confesses one character to a stranger. “It’s not even the words. It’s the sound of a voice, the way it moves through the air.” In the first act, an aging Japanese warrior arrives at the home of a mysterious woman who lives like a hermit deep in the woods. Has he come as her suitor, or her assassin? Does she intend to love him, or to imprison him forever, like the flowers she cultivates so assiduously? The battles of love become a deadly contest in this tale, blurring the distinctions between hero and coward, between victor and vanquished. In the second act, an elderly Japanese writer visits a mysterious brothel, which caters to men near the end of their lives by providing them with a means to relive their youth. The writer’s initial contempt for the house gives way first to acceptance, then to regular visits. Ultimately, he finds his dreams and fantasies exposed before the brothel’s elderly Madame, and embarks with her on an ethereal journey beyond sex and love. The Boston Globe called The Sound of a Voice “melodically engrossing. . . [The Sound of a Voice] haunts ones dreams.”

Philip Glass is renowned for his music for opera, dance, theatre, chamber ensemble, symphonic works, and film. Familiar to Chicago audiences, Glass recently collaborated with Rudolph Wurlitzer in Court Theatre’s 2000 production of In the Penal Colony and with Mary Zimmerman on Galileo, Galilei at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. His 1976 opera Einstein on the Beach, a five-hour epic created by Glass and Robert Wilson is seen as a landmark in 20th-century music-theater. Mr. Glass’s operas The Juniper Tree (co-composed with Robert Moran), The Fall of the House of Usher, and Orphée were commissioned by and received their world premieres at American Repertory Theatre and his The Voyage (with a libretto by David Henry Hwang) received its premiere at the Metropolitan Opera. Other opera companies that have produced his work include Houston Grand Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Boston Lyric Opera, San Francisco Opera, Seattle Opera, The English National Opera, The Music Theater of Amsterdam, and The Stuttgart Opera. His music for the film The Hours was nominated for an Academy Award and has won the British Academy of Film and Television Association Award. He was also nominated for an Oscar for work on Martin Scorsese’s film Kundun, and received a Golden Globe for his score for The Truman Show. Recent premieres included Symphony No. 5, a large choral work drawing from the text of wisdom traditions throughout the world, was commissioned by the Salzburg Festival, premiering in 1999 with subsequent performances worldwide and Symphony No. 6 (Plutonian Ode) with text by Allen Ginsberg, commissioned by Carnegie Hall to commemorate Glass’ 65th birthday.

David Henry Hwang was awarded the 1988 Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics, and John Gassner Awards for his Broadway debut, M Butterfly, which was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. For his play Golden Child he received a 1998 Tony nomination and a 1997 OBIE Award. His new book for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song earned him his third Tony Award nomination in 2003. Hwang is currently represented on Broadway as co-author of the book for Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida. Other plays include FOB (1981 OBIE Award), The Dance and the Railroad, Family Devotions, The Sound of a Voice, all produced at the New York Shakespeare Festival, and Bondage (Actors Theatre of Louisville). His Opera libretti include two works by composer Philip Glass, 1000 Airplanes on the Roof and The Voyage (Metropolitan Opera), as well as The Silver River (Lincoln Center Festival) with music by Bright Sheng and Ainadamar (Tanglewood, BAM) with music by Osvaldo Golijov. Hwang penned the feature films M. Butterfly, Golden Gate, and Possession (co-writer), and co-wrote the song “Solo” released on the album Come by composer/performer Prince. Hwang sits on the Council of the Dramatists Guild; he was educated at Stanford and Yale, and holds an honorary degree from Columbia College.

Robert Woodruff directed Highway Ulysses, Richard II, Full Circle, In the Jungle of Cities and Trojan Women A Love Story all at American Repertory Theatre where he holds the position of Artistic Director. His credits include the premieres of Sam Shepard’s Curse of the Starving Class, Buried Child (Pulitzer Prize), and True West at the New York Shakespeare Festival; In the Belly of the Beast, A Lie of the Mind, and Philip Glass’s A Madrigal Opera at the Mark Taper Forum; The Comedy of Errors (with the Flying Karamazov Brothers) at Lincoln Center; David Mamet’s adaptation of Red River at The Goodman Theatre; The Tempest, A Man’s a Man, and Happy Day (among others) at La Jolla Playhouse; Julius Caesar at Alliance Theatre; The Duchess of Malfi and Nothing Sacred at the American Conservatory Theatre; The Skin of Our Teeth at The Guthrie Theater, and Baal at Trinity Repertory Company. Mr. Woodruff co-founded The Eureka Theatre, San Francisco, and created The Bay Area Playwrights Festival.

The cast includes baritones Herbert and Eugene Perry, last seen on Court’s stage in Philip Glass’ In the Penal Colony, mezzo-soprano Janice Felty, and soprano Suzan Hanson. The music director is Alan Johnson, set design by Robert Israel, lighting design by Beverly Emmons and costume design by Kasia Walicka Maimone.

Set Designer Robert Israel has designed sets and costumes for opera houses worldwide, and has collaborated with Philip Glass on Orphée, The Voyage, Satyagraha, and Akhnaten.

Lighting Designer Beverly Emmons has designed for Broadway, Off-Broadway and Regional theater, dance and opera both in the U.S. and abroad. Her Broadway credits include Amadeus (Tony Award), Annie Get Your Gun, Jekyll & Hyde, The Heiress, and Stephen Sondheim’s Passion among others.

Costume Designer Kasia Walicka Maimone’s theatre credits include Robert Woodruff’s production of The Changeling, Philip Glass and Susan Marshall’s dance opera Les Enfants Terribles, Dracula and the film’s Jesus’s Son (directed by Alison Mclean), and Songcatcher (directed by Maggie Greenwald).

The Sound of a Voice: Dates, Times and Ticket Information The Sound of a Voice, an Opera by Philip Glass with Libretto by David Henry Hwang and Music by Philip Glass will be presented Thursday, September 25 - Sunday, November 2, 2003 at Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave., in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, on the University of Chicago campus.

Preview times September 25 - October 3 are: Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30p.m.; Friday and Saturday at 8:00p.m.; and Sunday at 2:30p.m. and 7:30p.m. Previews are $26- $30. Press opening for The Sound of a Voice is Saturday, October 4, 2003 at 8 p.m. Regular performances run through Sunday, November 2: Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30p.m.; Friday at 8:00p.m.; Saturday at 3:00p.m. and 8:00p.m.; and Sunday at 2:30p.m. and 7:30p.m. Performances are $35 - $50. Please note there will be no 7:30p.m. performance on Sunday, November 2, 2003. Call the Court Theatre Box Office, (773) 753-4472, stop by 5535 S. Ellis Ave., or visit Court online at for tickets and information. Senior and student discounts are available. Half-price Rush tickets ($10 for students) go on sale at the box office one hour before each performance, subject to availability. Senior and student discounts are available. Call Diane Osolin, (773) 753-4472, for group discounts. Call Bill Massolia, (773) 702-7242, to reserve high school matinee tickets. Free, covered parking is conveniently located in the parking garage just north of the theatre.

Regents Park by The Clinton Companies is the exclusive corporate sponsor of The Sound of a Voice. Court Theatre is partially supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts; by a CityArts program IV grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural affairs; and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

Court Theatre, the professional theatre in residence at the University of Chicago, is located at 5535 S. Ellis Ave. in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. Five, four and three play subscriptions to Court’s 2003/2004 season are on sale now ranging from $69 to $200. To purchase a subscription or receive more information, call the Court Theatre Box Office, (773) 753-4472, or visit Court’s website,
Last modified at 03:55 PM CST on Monday, September 29, 2003.

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