“INSOMNIA” World Premiere by Blake Allen
Based on the F. Scott Fitzgerald short story “Sleeping and Waking”
Starring Cree Carrico and Jeanna de Waal
Book, Music & Lyrics and Direction by Blake Allen
Musical Accompaniment by Argus Quartet and pianist Chris Koelzer
One Night Only Tuesday, November 8, 2022 – 8 PM
Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall
Award-winning composer Blake Allen presents the world premiere of his original musical work “INSOMNIA” at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall — based on and inspired by the 1934 F. Scott Fitzgerald short story, “Sleeping and Waking.” Presented on Tuesday, November 8 at 8 PM, the lead featured vocalists are opera soprano Cree Carrico and Broadway’s Jeanna de Waal, with musical accompaniment by the Argus Quartet (Clara Kim, Violin; Giancarlo Latta, Violin; Maren Rothfritz, Viola; Mariel Roberts, Cello) and pianist Chris Koelzer. The one-night-only evening is produced by Traguna Productions.
In a unique merge of classical, opera, and musical theater, Blake Allen’s “INSOMNIA” is comprised of two multi-movement, sextet compositions (voice, string quartet, piano) and tells the story of how sleep deprivation and anxiety affect two individuals, living almost one hundred years apart.
The first musical piece, Fitzgerald’s autobiographical “Sleeping and Waking” (text excerpted by permission of the estate) is performed by Cree Carrico (Portland Opera, Opera Tampa, Finger Lakes Opera, Montreal Opera) and follows the writer’s musings, anxiety and struggles over the course of a fragile and sleepless night in Baltimore as he roamed the streets, seeking repose. When at last tranquility is found, the sun begins to rise, and the next day begins.
The second musical piece, “Of Which, Tomorrow” performed by Jeanna de Waal (Diana, Princess of Wales in Diana: The Musical) features Blake Allen’s original, stream-of-consciousness text, written after his own anxiety and insomnia would wake him at 4:05 AM, nearly every morning. This dystopian tale tells the story of ‘Jeanna,’ a 30-something woman whose insomnia and terror are derived from her deep-seated fear of a randomized, government-initiated death to control the New York City population. While the day or time is not known, at any given moment, all cars crossing into Manhattan by bridge or tunnel will be vaporized. With a large work presentation looming that could change the course of her desultory life, Jeanna must travel from the safety of her apartment in Hackensack, New Jersey to her office in Manhattan. But as the clock continues to tick down and sirens wail, Jenna contemplates what it means to be alive while trapped in darkness inside the Holland Tunnel. Will she escape or succumb to her worst nightmare?
NOTES FROM THE ARTIST
“Insomnia is said to be an innate, evolutionary condition stemming from the time when humans were hunters and gathers. According to anthropologists, wolf pups would hunt right before dawn, often targeting young children, and so humans would wake up early, before the hunt to protect their offspring. Since then, the anxiety of the ‘encroaching’ wolf pup has been replaced by sleepless nights filled with worrisome thoughts, growing lists of tasks and projects to complete, decisions we have yet to make, texts we shouldn’t have sent, and the stress of our impending day-to-day circumstances and life events. Much like Fitzgerald before her, even Taylor Swift’s upcoming album Midnights may be one of the most relatable with her ‘journey through terrors and sweet dreams.’ Through music and story, my “INSOMNIA” evening dissects what happens when we battle with our subconscious thoughts and the potentially far-reaching effects of the decisions we make when our mind is racing, compounded by the very real stress of trying to fall asleep.” – Blake Allen
Tickets for Blake Allen’s “INSOMNIA” at Carnegie Hall range from $55-$75 (excluding fees) and can be purchased online. Box Office Location: 57th & 7th. Running time: 75 minutes, no intermission.
BLAKE ALLEN is an internationally recognized, award-winning composer and musician, having performed on Broadway in Tootsie and Stephen King’s Misery, and at major music halls including Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, and Strathmore Music Center, to name a few.
Allen’s musical works have been performed by the New York Philharmonic, New Jersey Symphony, San Diego Symphony, and luminaries such as Kristin Chenoweth, Renée Fleming, Rebecca Luker, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Keala Seattle, Norm Lewis, Sierra Boggess, Cady Huffman, Sherie Renee Scott, Jason Alexander, and Lena Hall, among many others.
Known for his innovative bridging of contemporary music and theater, Allen’s works are “full of yearning and exuberance and affection” with “strings to make you swoon” (The New York Times). Heavily influenced by his Mormon upbringing and the vast, cultural landscapes of his hometown of El Paso, TX, Allen made his professional composer debut in 2016 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Currently, Allen serves as musical director and collaborator for RuPaul’s Drag Race star, Tina Burner. Previously, he was music director and orchestrator of the 2019 Off-Broadway musical revival of Over Here! by the Sherman Brothers. Allen’s original musicals include Folk Wandering, Boston|Nebraska, HOCKET, and Insomnia (2022 world premiere, Carnegie Hall; based on and inspired by the 1934 F. Scott Fitzgerald short story, “Sleeping and Waking”; text excerpted by permission of the estate). Allen also performs viola with the New York City Ballet. Allen’s film score for the feature-length documentary Conversion centered on conversion therapy survivors is slated to be released in the fall of 2022.
Allen has four chart-topping albums, with his autobiographical musical opera, The Shards of an Honor Code Junkie garnering four million streams since its December 2021 debut. Featuring GRAMMY, TONY, and Drama Desk award-winning talent, the album earned the #1 spot on Amazon Classical and Billboard Cast Albums charts. A coming-of-age story about a homosexual Mormon who embarks on a journey of self-love while challenging Brigham Young’s staunch eight “Honor Code Rules,” opened up the conversation about LGBTQIA+ student treatment at universities with its themes of suicide, trauma, and self-love.
As an educator, Allen has been adjunct faculty in violin and viola at New York University’s Steinhardt School – Department of Music & Performing Arts, since 2012. He holds degrees from New York University (Ph.D. candidate; Master of Music with Honors), Brigham Young University (Bachelor of Music with Honors), and University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (graduate studies). For more information, visit https://www.blakeallen.org.
CREE CARRICO. As a lead interpreter of 20th and 21st-century works, soprano Cree Carrico collaborates closely with composers and librettists and performs in many premieres of contemporary pieces with major opera companies in North America including Portland Opera, Opera Tampa, Finger Lakes Opera, and Montreal Opera to name a few. A member of Actor’s Equity, Cree performed in the New York Philharmonic’s performance of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, sharing the stage with Nathan Gunn, Kelli O’Hara, and Stephanie Blythe. She was also seen in Carnegie Hall’s one-night-only performance of Guys & Dolls, starring Nathan Lane and Megan Mullally. https://www.creecarrico.com
JEANNA DE WAAL is a Drama Desk-nominated actress who most recently played the title role of Diana, Princess of Wales in Diana, the Musical on Broadway and Netflix. Other Broadway credits include Kinky Boots and American Idiot. Additional theater credits include Waitress, Finding Neverland, Wicked, Carrie, and We Will Rock You. https://www.jeannadewaal.com
ARGUS QUARTET is dedicated to encouraging the joys of human connection, community, and discovery by bringing a wide-ranging repertoire to life through bold and meaningful programming and a vibrant commitment to collaboration and education. Praised for playing with “supreme melodic control and total authority” and “decided dramatic impact” (Calgary Herald), the Quartet has quickly emerged as one of today’s most dynamic and versatile ensembles, winning First Prize at both the 2017 M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition and the 2017 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition. Based in New York City, the Quartet was founded in Los Angeles in 2013, where its members shared many meals at their favorite taco truck on Argus Drive. https://www.argusquartet.com
CHRISTOPHER KOELZER is a GRAMMY nominee, who hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. He performs and coaches regularly in New York City and Washington, D.C. as a solo and collaborative pianist. Christopher has worked as assistant conductor and vocal coach with many opera companies, including Washington National Opera (Washington, D.C.), Wolf Trap Opera (Vienna, VA), Northern Lights Music Festival (Minnesota), Maryland Lyric Opera (Bethesda, MD), and has coached and performed with the Maryland Opera Studio from 2013-2020. Christopher currently works as a teacher, vocal coach, and accompanist at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in Manhattan. https://www.christopherkoelzer.com