Once I Was
Ricky and Stacey became friends during a workshop of his opera "Morning Star", when, reading though his songs between rehearsals, they discovered that his music and her voice were perfectly suited to each other. From this grew the idea for "Once I Was," a semi-staged theatrical concert, in which Ricky's songs are arranged to tell the life story of a girl who eventually finds meaning and solace through music.
They first performed "Once I Was" at the Chicago Cultural Center in October of 2011, with Patrick Rehker on the clarinet, and Amy Hutchison directing. It is staged simply, with a few props and costume pieces, and the singer acknowledges the audience as she lives out her story in the songs. The clarinet, whose parts were especially composed for this concert, symbolizes the man she falls in love with, and whose death she experiences during the course of the story. His "voice" returns again at the end, as she goes over her life, to lead her back towards finding meaning in the music that has been with her all along.
A studio recording is in the works to preserve this unique collaboration and make it available to a wider audience.
Stacey Tappan has been drawn to modern works since her professional debut with Houston Grand Opera as Beth in Adamo's Little Women, later released on CD and DVD. Her other successes in contemporary music include Esa-Pekka Salonen's Wing on Wing (Los Angeles Philharmonic); the Thai opera Madana (world premiere, Bangkok); Leone's The Leader (Chicago’s Goodman Theatre); Britten's Albert Herring, Krenek's Secret Kingdom, and Braunfels' The Birds (Los Angeles Opera); and La Chiusa's Lovers and Friends and Tippett's The Midsummer Marriage (Lyric Opera of Chicago). She has also won acclaim onstage in musicals and operettas, such as The Pirates of Penzance (Michigan Opera Theater), Kiss Me Kate and The Merry Widow (Light Opera Works in Evanston), and Die Fledermaus (Glyndebourne Festival Opera). Her other operatic credits include Ring cycles in Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco; Rigoletto in Lille and Dijon; and Falstaff in Chicago.
Ricky Ian Gordon's music was described in The New York Times as "bursting effervescence infusing songs that blithely blur the lines between art song and the high-end Broadway music of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim... It's caviar for a world gorging on pizza." His compositions include the operas Rappahannock County, The Grapes of Wrath, and Tibetan Book of the Dead; dramatic song cycles Only Heaven, Orpheus and Eurydice, Green Sneakers and Autumn Valentine; musicals My Life with Albertine, Dream True, and Sycamore Trees; and song recordings "Bright Eyed Joy," "and flowers pick themselves," "A Horse with Wings," and "Bric-A-Brac." Among Gordon’s upcoming projects are an opera commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera; the opera The Garden of the Finzi-Continis; and an operatic monologue based on Night Flight To San Francisco for soprano Renée Fleming.