Susan Hellman Spatafora and Charlotte Johnson: Opera & Dance
Pulling from the works of two trailblazing women artists (Natalia Goncharova and Gertrude Stein), this multi-disciplinary program celebrates the artistic and political strides each made during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Both women challenged gender and societal norms, questioning conventions of the day — seemingly serving as the ultimate rebels. But a close examination of their work, as presented here with soprano Susan Hellman Spatafora and dance artist Charlotte Johnson, explores the inspiration each found in the higher ideals of the early 20th century. Q&A with Spatafora and Johnson after each performance.
Artist: Natalia Goncharova
I. Scene and curtain design for Le Coq d’Or (The Golden Cockerel)
Musical Selection: Le Coq d’or Hymn to the Sun
II. Spanish Dancer with Oranges 1916 & Curtain design with Spanish Motif
Musical Selection: Siete canciones populares españolas
III. Spring in Snegourotchka
Musical Selection: Snow Maiden aria
Artist: Robert Indiana
IV. Costume design for Lillian Russell
Musical Selection: Come Down Ma Evenin’ Star, by Lillian Russell
V. Costume design for Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thomson in The Mother of us All
Musical Selection: We Cannot Retrace Our Steps from The Mother of Us All (Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein)
Stein identified with Susan B. Anthony as a largely misunderstood woman who fought for the equality she so strongly believed in, striving desperately to be understood on her own terms. Thomson created an exquisite aria for her, We Cannot Retrace Our Steps, which she sings – with the full weight of her life’s work on her shoulders – as she’s being unveiled as a statue in the halls of Congress.
Susan Hellman Spatafora is a soprano, song recitalist and soloist. She has performed with companies, such as St. Pete Opera Company, Palm Beach Opera, Opera Tampa, Sarasota Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Central City Opera, South Florida Lyric Opera and Green Mountain Opera, among others. Her most recent roles were portrayed in Talkin’ Broadway, Les pêcheurs de perles, Madama Butterfly, Les Contes d’Hoffmann and Le Villi. Spatafora has been recognized for her rich soprano voice as a prize winner in competitions including the Florida Grand Opera Young Patronesses of the Opera competition, the Palm Beach Opera International Vocal Competition, and the National Society of Arts and Letters Voice Competition.
Charlotte D. Johnson, a native of St. Petersburg, graduated from The Juilliard School where she appeared in works by Paul Taylor, José Limón, Ronald Brown, Ohad Naharin and more. She was also featured in both the 2008 Puma commercial and print campaigns, and worked as a freelance dancer for Ballet Noir and Trainor Dance in New York City. She previously taught dance at a St. Petersburg middle school, and was a full-time company dancer for Sarasota Contemporary Dance for two seasons. In January 2019, Charlotte Johnson was awarded the Professional Artist Grant in the category of Dance Performance from Creative Pinellas. Johnson is now focused on building her artistic career as a Choreographer and Director.
Free with museum admission, $10 on Thursdays after 5 pm
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Photo Credits: (l-r) Jim Swallow and Sorcha Augustine