Hollis Thoms, Composer
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Conversations, a chamber opera, was premiered at Concordia College-New York, Bronxville, NY on October 29, 2015. Sorab Wadia conducted the ensemble and the vocal soloists were Jason Thoms, Kristopher Jean, George Heath, Treva Foss and Sarah Bleasdale. The instrumental ensemble is scored for oboe, horn, violin, cello and double bass. The opera is based on two short stories: James Joyce's "A Little Cloud," and Ernest Hemingway's "Hills Are Like White Elephants."  Since both stories are set in a pub/bar, both stories are integrated into one dramatic experience, tying them together with an Irish drinking song sung by the waitress/bar maid who is present in both stories.

The middle section of the opera is heard in the excerpt below. Jason, baritone, portrays a character from the Joyce story who lives a traveled and hedonistic life and returns to old Dublin to visit some friends, one, portrayed by tenor Kristopher Jeans, who is married with a new child, has an artistic bent, but feels trapped by the traditions of old Ireland. George Heath and Treva Foss play a couple from the Hemingway story who, at the beginning of their conversation, seem to only be having a good time, but as time goes by it is revealed that their relationship is threatened by an unwanted pregnancy that will change their relationship and lives forever, and so they struggle to deal with this new reality. 

In my new Luther opera, to be premiered November 4 and 5, Jason Thoms plays the part of Martin Luther and Sarah Bleasdale, the part of Katie Luther. This opera has some similarities to Conversations in orchestration and in the bantering between characters, combining light-heartedness with seriousness. Jason Thoms is seated in the photo below and Sarah is far right in the Conversations premiere.

From Conversations: left to right Kristopher Jean, Jason Thoms and Sarah Bleasdale