Robert Ashley   Dust

012Dust2017_800Photo by Martin Seck

Mannes School of Music at The New School, presents Robert Ashley's anti-war opera DUST in a new production by William Gustafson and Troy Hourie.

Hailed by Zachary Woolfe of the New York Times as the most tantalizing operatic offering by a New York conservatory this season, with a score and libretto by Robert Ashley this production of DUST features students from The New School College of Performing Arts under the musical direction of Joan La Barbara, a long-time Ashley collaborator and friend. Tom Hamilton, a member of the original production, is involved as a production and musical consultant.

When & where
Thursday February 2, 2017 @ 8pm
Friday February 3 @ 8pm
Saturday February 4 at 3pm and 8pm
Mannes/The New School, Steifel Concert Hall at 55 West 13th Street
New York

General admission: $25 Students: $15. Available at the Ticket Central Box Office, open Noon - 8pm daily (212) 279-4200, or online.

Ashley describes the idea behind the opera: "Imagine a street corner anywhere in the world, where those who live on the fringes of society gather to talk, to each other and to themselves, about life-changing events, missed opportunities, memory, loss and regret. Five 'street people' recount the memories and experiences of one of their group, a man who has lost his legs in some unnamed war. As part of the experience of losing his legs, he began a conversation with God, under the influence of the morphine he was given to ease his pain. Now he wishes that the conversation, which was interrupted when the morphine wore off, could be continued so that he could get the 'secret word' that would stop all wars and suffering.
This is the first production since the original cast last performed it in New York at La Mama in January 2009. Composed in 1998, DUST combines live mixing and sound processing, improvisation, and pre-recorded music, all over a libretto based off of the free-associations, conversations, and waking dreams of five  street people. The highly experimental vocal delivery combines a range of traditional and unconventional vocal techniques, from singing and speaking to mumbling and whispering. In writing DUST, Ashley created only a libretto with limited notation as a roadmap for performers, and required cast members to learn the work through listening rather than reading. The musical construct is remarkably original.
"Ashley's vocal style is quite unique in the literature of contemporary opera, requiring each singer to create the character vocally as well as theatrically, and using speech delivery shaped by intonation and exaggerated inflection, said Joan La Barbara, Mannes faculty and an internationally renowned vocalist who performed and collaborated closely with Ashley.  It is an important and unique opportunity for Mannes students to be able to learn this manner of singing, and it has been a pleasure to coach and mentor our young performers through this process. The layers of story≠telling involved in the texts Ashley wrote explore first, second, and third person complexities, interwoven with historical context, and offer particular challenges to the acting skills of our young performers, who are brilliantly actualizing these tasks."
Sound Design and live mixing are by David Van Tieghem (Mannes faculty and former Ashley collaborator) and Emily Auciello. Troy Hourie is the Scenographer and Paul Cegys is the Associate Scenographer. Julie Mason Groob is the Vice Dean for Production at The New School s College of Performing Arts. She has worked on DUST with Production Manager Melissa Futch and Stage Manager Suzi Bonnot.
Mario Diaz-Moresco performs the lead role, a homeless, nameless character. Julia Meadows is Lucille and Alexander Greenzeig is The Rug. Marisa Karchin and Samantha Scully share the role of Shirley Temple. Allison Gish and Evelyn Rivera-Cardenas share Green Pants.


Founded in 1916, Mannes School of Music at The New School seeks to develop citizen artists who engage with the world around them in and through music, in traditional, new, and emergent forms of practice. Our eminent faculty of artists, scholars, and educators of international stature, including active professionals from all areas of the music world foster close, constructive relationships with students and are committed to advancing the creative role of music throughout all aspects of our rapidly changing society. Notable faculty include Jeremy Denk, multi≠award winning and MacArthur Fellow pianist; Dave Douglas, multi≠award winning and MacArthur Fellow trumpeter; Cynthia Phelps, principal violist of The New York Philharmonic; David Chan, Concertmaster of The Metropolitian Opera; Joan La Barbara, vocalist and pioneer in contemporary vocal music; William Burden, renowned operatic tenor; David T Little, composer; Missy Mazzoli, composer; Paul Moravec, composer; and many more.
Founded in 1919, The New School was born out of principles of academic freedom, tolerance, and experimentation. Committed to social engagement, The New School today remains in the vanguard of innovation in higher education, with more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students challenging the status quo in design and the social sciences, liberal arts, management, the arts, and media. The New School welcomes thousands of adult learners annually for continuing education courses and calendar of lectures, screenings, readings, and concerts. Through its online learning portals, research institutes, and international partnerships, The New School maintains a global presence. Learn more at