“Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt” Press Release

Download the press release HERE.

On Site Opera presents the World Premiere of John Musto’s new opera Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt, at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs, September 23 – October 15, 2017

The 20-minute family-friendly opera, with a libretto by OSO General & Artistic Director Eric Einhorn, will be free of charge with museum admission, continuing OSO’s initiative of free opera which began with their spring performances of Mozart’s The Secret Gardener

Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt was co-commissioned & co-produced with Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Lyric Unlimited & Pittsburgh Opera, in partnership with The American Museum of Natural History

Monday, August 7, 2017 — FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — On Site Opera will present the World Premiere of Rhoda and the Fossil Hunta new opera by John Musto with libretto by Eric Einhorn, at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs this Fall. Performances of the family-friendly opera – which will run approximately 20 minutes – will be free with museum admission, and will take place September 23, 24, 29, 30, October 1, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15 (Fridays at 11:30am; Saturdays and Sundays at 12:00 & 2:30).Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt is based on the real-life experiences of Rhoda Knight Kalt (soprano Jennifer Zetlan) and her trips to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) with her grandfather Charles R. Knight (baritone Robert Orth), the famous naturalist artist who was commissioned by Dr. Henry Fairfield Osborn (tenor Patrick Cook), paleontologist and president of the AMNH, to create paintings and sculptures of prehistoric creatures – many still on display at the AMNH today. During the performances, audiences will join Rhoda as she goes on a hunt for missing fossils around the hall, while learning about the interconnectedness of creativity and science.Reflecting the most current thinking on dinosaur traits, behavior, and evolutionary links to birds, the Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs examines the group of dinosaurs that evolved from an ancestor with grasping hands. It features some of the Museum’s most beloved and terrifying specimens, including Tyrannosaurus rex and Apatosaurus.

Co-commissioned and co-produced with Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Lyric Unlimited and Pittsburgh OperaRhoda and the Fossil Hunt will also travel to Chicago and Pittsburgh following the premiere in New York.

The performance follows OSO’s acclaimed recent productions of Mozart’s The Secret Gardener at the West Side Community Garden, and the North American Premiere of Darius Milhaud’s The Guilty Mother at reclaimed Hell’s Kitchen space The Garage.

Funding for Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt is provided in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

This production is also supported by New Music USA, made possible by annual program support and/or endowment gifts from Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Helen F. Whitaker Fund, Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Carl Jacobs Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Anonymous.



John Musto’s Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt

Libretto by Eric Einhorn

Co-commissioned & Co-produced with Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Lyric Unlimited & Pittsburgh Opera
In partnership with The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH)
Sept 23, 24, 29, 30
Oct 1, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15
*Fridays at 11:30am; Saturdays and Sundays at 12:00 & 2:30.*

Central Park West & 79th St, New York, NY 10024
Conductor: Jorge Parodi
Associate Conductor: Robert Kahn
Director: Eric Einhorn
Costume Designer: Summer Lee Jack
Prop Designer: Sydney Schatz
Rhoda: Jennifer Zetlan, soprano
Charles R. Knight: Robert Orth, baritone
Dr. Henry Fairfield Osborn: Patrick Cook, tenor




Over the course of five short seasons, On Site Opera (OSO) has established itself as one of New York City’s most imaginative, cutting-edge opera companies. As The New York Times wrote: “On Site Opera presents the ultimate in intimate productions by performing works in spaces that fit the setting of the story.” OSO’s immersive, site-specific performances have taken place in venues ranging from the the Bronx Zoo to the Cotton Club to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, pushing the boundaries of what opera can do and be and blurring the lines between performer and audience to create a uniquely powerful musical experience.

Upcoming performances have included Mozart’s The Secret Gardener at the West Side Community Garden (May 11-13, co-produced with The Atlanta Opera’s Discoveries series), the U.S. premiere of Milhaud’s La mère coupable at The Garage, a Hell’s Kitchen industrial space owned by fashion designer Kenneth Cole (June 20, 22-24), and the world premiere of John Musto’s Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs (Sept-Oct, co-commissioned and co-produced with Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Lyric Unlimited and Pittsburgh Opera).

Founded in 2012, OSO’s team of General & Artistic Director, Eric Einhorn and Music Director, Geoffrey McDonald are dedicated to producing site-specific opera in nontraditional venues throughout New York. Dubbed “So much more than Sleep No More” by The New York Observer, OSO molds its productions to specific locations using physical space to create an environment in which the concept, storytelling, music, and performers unite to form an immersive, cohesive, and meaningful whole. OSO, a registered 501(c)(3), is a proud member of Opera America and the New York Opera Alliance. www.osopera.org

About Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Lyric Unlimited:

Lyric Unlimited, a division of Lyric Opera of Chicago, offers a multifaceted program of education, community engagement and artistic initiatives. The purpose of Lyric Unlimited is to provide a relevant cultural service to communities throughout the Chicago area, including communities for whom opera and opera companies have been largely irrelevant; to explore a wide range of ways in which Lyric can collaborate with cultural and community organizations throughout the area; and to advance the development of opera, exploring ways in which opera as an art form can resonate more powerfully, and in a range of different ways, with people of multiple backgrounds, ethnicities, and interests. In the 2015/16 season, 94,386 individuals participated in Lyric Unlimited programs.  www.lyricopera.org

About Pittsburgh Opera:

Pittsburgh Opera celebrates its 78th season in 2016-17. Established by five intrepid women in 1939, Pittsburgh Opera is viewed as one of the most vibrant opera organizations in the U.S., with a rich artistic tradition, outstanding educational programs, an acclaimed artist training program, and a progressive outlook toward the future. Pittsburgh Opera is unveiling the world premiere of Daniel Sonenberg’s The Summer King – the Josh Gibson story – in 2017, and Mohammed Fairouz’s Bhutto in 2018. Its green initiative culminated in LEED® Silver certification for its Strip District headquarters, and its capacity as a true community partner has increased significantly under General Director Christopher Hahn’s leadership.www.pittsburghopera.org

About the American Museum of Natural History:

The American Museum of Natural History, founded in 1869, is one of the world’s preeminent scientific, educational, and cultural institutions. The Museum encompasses 45 permanent exhibition halls, including the Rose Center for Earth and Space and the Hayden Planetarium, as well as galleries for temporary exhibitions. It is home to the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial, New York State’s official memorial to its 33rd governor and the nation’s 26th president, and a tribute to Roosevelt’s enduring legacy of conservation. The Museum’s five active research divisions and three cross-disciplinary centers support approximately 200 scientists, whose work draws on a world-class permanent collection of more than 34 million specimens and artifacts, as well as specialized collections for frozen tissue and genomic and astrophysical data, and one of the largest natural history libraries in the world. Through its Richard Gilder Graduate School, it is the only American museum authorized to grant the Ph.D. degree and the Master of Arts in Teaching degree. Annual attendance has grown to approximately 5 million, and the Museum’s exhibitions and Space Shows can be seen in venues on five continents. The Museum’s website and collection of apps for mobile devices extend its collections, exhibitions, and educational programs to millions more beyond its walls. Visit amnh.org for more information.


About Jennifer Zetlan

Soprano Jennifer Zetlan (Rhoda) is internationally recognized for her artistry and captivating stage presence. She has been seen and heard on opera and concert stages worldwide, as well as recital venues and on Broadway. This season, Jennifer Zetlan ends a run in Fiddler on the Roof (directed by Bartlett Sher) on Broadway. She also makes her European debut with the Staatstheater Stuttgart in Purcell’s The Fairy Queen, and creates the title role in the world premiere of Jane Eyre by Louis Karchin with Center for Contemporary Opera, which will be recorded by Naxos next season. On the concert stage, she performs Kaija Saariaho’s Lonh with the New York Philharmonic at the Park Avenue Armory and sings the role of Woglinde in the New York Philharmonic’s concert presentation of Das Rheingold.  Ms. Zetlan sings the soprano solos in Bruckner’s Te Deum and Mozart’s Mass in C minor with Oratorio Society of New York at Carnegie Hall and on tour in Montevideo, Uruguay (in her South American debut), and will also be heard at Carnegie Hall as a celebrated alumna of Mannes College of Music in their Centennial Celebration concert.  She is also heard in recital with pianists David Shimoni and composer Ricky Ian Gordon.  In the summer, she will be seen in Charlottesville Opera’s new production of Oklahoma! as Laurey.

About Robert Orth

Robert Orth (Charles R. Knight) has performed numerous roles across the USA and worldwide. He was named “Artist of the Year” by both New York City Opera and Seattle Opera. Performing new American operas has brought Mr. Orth great pleasure and acclaim. He was the Lodger in Argento’s The Aspern Papers at the Kennedy Center; and the Lecturer in Argento’s one-man opera A Waterbird Talk in Chicago. He created the title role in Harvey Milk in Houston, New York, and San Francisco. In 1997 he portrayed Frank Lloyd Wright in Shining Brow by Daron Hagen. In 2000 he played Owen Hart in San Francisco in the world premiere of Dead Man Walking. In 2001 he first portrayed Richard Nixon in Nixon in China in St. Louis, and subsequently in Portland, Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Vancouver, Toronto, London, and Berlin. In 2007 he was Uncle John in the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s The Grapes of Wrath. In 2010, he was Mr. Stubb in the world premiere of Jake Heggie’s and Gene Scheer’s Moby Dick. He played Blazes in The Lighthouse in 2012, in Dallas. In 2013 in St. Louis, he created the role of Howie Albert in the world premiere of Terence Blanchard’s Champion. And in 2014, he was Simon Powers in Tod Machover’s Death and the Powers. His recordings include The Telephone, Nixon in China, Six Characters in Search of an Author, Harvey Milk, Dead Man Walking, Hansel and Gretel, Shining Brow, The Grapes of Wrath, Brief Encounter and The Inspector.

About Patrick Cook

Patrick Cook (Dr. Henry Fairfield Osborn) is earning praise for his performances across the country in venues including The Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. Recent operatic performances include Peter Quint in The Turn of the Screw, Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos, Don José in Carmen, Florestan in Fidelio, and the title role in Idomeneowith companies throughout the Mid-Atlantic region including Annapolis Opera, Bard Summerscape, DC Public Opera, Grand Harmonie, Maryland Lyric Opera, Washington Concert Opera, Washington National Opera, and Wolf Trap Opera. Cook appears regularly as a concert soloist performing with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra, Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, Metropolitan Philharmonic, New Dominion Chorale, Handel Choir of Baltimore, US Naval Academy Glee Club, The Washington Chorus, and the DC Wagner Society. A champion of new works, Cook debuted at Carnegie Hall as part of Osvaldo Golijov and Dawn Upshaw’s Composing Song Workshop. In 2011, Cook performed for President Obama’s Town Hall meeting in College Park, MD. Cook is a 2011 and 2010 DC District Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He can be heard as Bois-Rosé on the American Symphony Orchestra’s recording of Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots. A graduate of the Baltimore School for the Arts, Cook holds advanced degrees from the University of Maryland College Park, Bard Conservatory, and The Juilliard School. For more information please visit www.PatrickCookTenor.com


About the Creative Team

About John Musto

John Musto (Composer) is that all too rare exemplar, the classical composer whose work is both critically acclaimed and widely performed, who has also distinguished himself as an instrumental soloist and chamber musician.  In particular, Musto has been hailed as the “leading vocal composer of his generation,” and “perhaps also the leading one of opera” by Fanfare magazine, and as a composer who “wraps [his] arms around many musical styles even as [the music] delivers on it s own appealing, colourful and moving terms” (Gramophone magazine), who “spins flaxen pop into golden art” (New York Newsday.) Each of his four operas has been produced multiple times, and each has been commercially recorded (for the Albany, Bridge and Wolf Trap Opera labels.) In the season just past, Bastianello (“…magical, heartbreaking” – Washington Post) was presented by Rochester Lyric Opera and also by SUNY Fredonia, while Later the Same Evening (“…magnificently rendered ensembles…” – Washington Post) was given at Central City Opera. This season, Later the Same Evening travels to Northwestern University, and The Inspector will have a new staging in Houston. In addition toRhoda and the Dinosaur Hunt, 2017 will also see the premieres of a new song cycle by Musto for Philadelphia’s LyricFest, and of a major work for Chanticleer, San Francisco’s acclaimed male vocal ensemble.

About Eric Einhorn

Eric Einhorn (Librettist, Stage Director, Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt |General & Artistic Director, On Site Opera) has been praised by The Austin Chronicle as “a rising star in the opera world” and by Opera News for his “keen eye for detail and character insight.” He is the co-founder of On Site Opera, a company dedicated to immersive, site- specific productions. Mr. Einhorn has directed productions for Chicago Lyric Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Ft. Worth Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Florentine Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Utah Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, the Pacific Symphony, and Gotham Chamber Opera. He has been a member of the stage directing staff at the Metropolitan Opera since 2005. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette named Mr. Einhorn’s production of Dialogues des Carmélites for Pittsburgh Opera one of the top ten classical music performances of 2011. He originally created the production for Austin Lyric Opera in 2009 and was awarded “Best Opera” at the Austin Critics’ Table Awards in addition to garnering him a nomination for “Best Director.” During summer of 2014, he directed Rameau’s Pygmalion at Madame Tussauds New York and the Lifestyle-Trimco mannequin showroom. This production featured the world’s first implementation of supertitles for Google Glass. Recent engagements include the world premiere of Happy Birthday, Wanda June with Indianapolis Opera, a revival staging of Simon Boccanegra starring Placido Domingo at the Metropolitan Opera, and a new staging of The Flying Dutchman for Austin Opera.

About Jorge Parodi

Internationally acclaimed conductor Jorge Parodi has worked extensively in North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia.  Recent credits include Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia and Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi for Buenos Aires Lírica in Argentina; Britten’s The Turn of the Screw for the Castleton Festival in Virginia and The Banff Centre in Canada; Piazzolla’s María de Buenos Aires for The Atlanta Opera and Opera Grand Rapids; and Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges for The Juilliard School at Lincoln Center.

Reviewed as having “the most expressive conducting hands since Stokowski” by the New York Daily News, Argentinean born Jorge Parodi has worked with such companies as the Teatro Colón in Argentina, the Volgograd Opera in Russia, the Encuentros Internacionales de Opera in Mexico, the Tokyo International Vocal Arts Academy in Japan, and the International Vocal Arts Institute in Israel.  He has collaborated with such artists as Isabel Leonard, Eglise Gutierrez, Tito Capobianco, Sherrill Milnes, Aprile Millo and Rufus Wainwright and has assisted conductors Lorin Maazel and Julius Rudel, among others.

Maestro Parodi was named Music Director of Opera in Williamsburg (Virginia), where he has conducted Rigoletto, Il trovatore, L’elisir d’amore, Lucia di Lammermoor, La cenerentola and Le nozze di Figaro, among other titles.  He is also the Music Director of the Senior Opera Theatre at the Manhattan School of Music, where he has led its productions to critical acclaim, including Schubert’s Die Verschworenen, that the New York Times praised as being “superbly performed,” and the American premieres of Délibes’ Le Roi l’a dit and Paisiello’s Nina.

About Robert Kahn

Studying at Mannes in New York City, Robert Kahn is a versatile conductor of symphonic, operatic, and choral music. For the 2015-2017 seasons, he is the assistant conductor for the Mannes Opera, working under Joseph Colaneri. As a recipient of the Julius Rudel Conducting Award, Robert served as cover conductor with the Buffalo Philharmonic under JoAnn Faletta for several concerts during the 2016/17 season.

Under Joseph Colaneri, Robert worked on productions of Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore, Barber’s Vanessa, and Mark Adamo’s Little Women.

Robert recently conducted new opera works at Opera Philadelphia’s Double Exposure concert, performing at the Arts Bank in Philadelphia. With the International Chamber Orchestra of America (ICOA), Robert conducted a symphonic concert at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall. In May of 2017, Robert conducted Benjamin Britten’s A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestrawith the Buffalo Philharmonic at a family concert. In the summer of 2017, he was the assistant conductor for On Site Opera’s US premiere of Darius Milhaud’s La Mère Coupable.

Robert holds a Master’s Degree in Orchestral Conducting from Mannes College, and is currently pursuing a Professional Studies Diploma there under the tutelage of David Hayes. Previous conducting teachers include Ignat Solzhenitsyn, Harlan D. Parker, and Harold Farberman. He holds a Double Bachelor’s Degree in Physics and Clarinet from The Johns Hopkins University and Peabody Conservatory.

About Summer Lee Jack

Summer Lee Jack (Costume Designer) is a Brooklyn based costume designer. Recent design credits include: Measure for Measure and the Tempest (Shakespeare Academy at Stratford). Baghdaddy: the Musical (Theatre at St. Lukes), La BohemeThe Wedding, Beatrice and Benedict, Roméo et Juliette, The Classical Style, The Cows of Apollo, Così fan tutte, Carmen, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Eugene Onegin (Aspen Opera Center), OtelloCenerentola (Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra), The Tower (HERE Arts Center), The Elephant in Every Room I Enter (La Mama ETC), The Cunning Little Vixen, La Doriclea, L’Roi a Dit, Das Land des Lächelns and A Little Night Music(Manhattan School of Music), Die Verschworenen/Die Winterreise (Hofstra Opera Theater). MFA in Design from the Yale School of Drama. Member of Wingspace Theatrical Design. www.summerleejack.com

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