Adding to a long list of world première commissions, Houston Grand Opera presented A Coffin in Egypt, written by composer Ricky Ian Gordon (The Grapes of Wrath) with a libretto by Leonard Foglia (The End of the Affair, Cruzar la Cara de la Luna), in March 2014.
The one-act “chamber opera,” based on the Horton Foote play of the same name, featured world-renowned mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade (known almost universally by her nickname “Flicka”) as Myrtle Bledsoe who, now aged 90, looks back over her long, eventful life and strives to come to terms with it all.
Conceived as a one-woman showcase for Flicka, who came out of retirement to sing the role, A Coffin in Egypt features a gospel quartet, actors, and a 9-piece Houston Grand Opera chamber orchestra.
The world première production at HGO was conducted by Timothy Myers (artistic director and principal conductor of North Carolina Opera). He worked closely with Gordon and Foglia, and with Flicka, as A Coffin in Egypt was developed and refined over many months.
Myers talks to Houston Public Media’s St.John Flynn about A Coffin in Egypt and we hear excerpts from the newly-released recording, featuring Myers conducting the HGO orchestra, on the Albany label (TROY 1500).