Garth Baxter’s Lily the Opera

Summer 2022 the opera Lily was filmed in a fully staged production in Westminster, Maryland. Composer Garth Baxter and librettist Lisa Van Auken (pen name Lisa Van Allen) created this opera over 13 years.

Lily is a romantic opera written in the style of Puccini and Verdi. The opera is melodramatic, full of arias, and each scene has motives that carry the action and make the music understandable and enjoyable. Lily is loosely based upon the novel The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton and is set in 1910 New York.

This project began in 2020 during a discussion between composer Garth Baxter and soprano Katie Procell. At that time, the Covid pandemic was preventing live performances. Because it did not appear the situation would improve quickly, we set aside the idea of doing a live performance and turned to filming instead. Although originally written for full orchestra, we streamlined the number of instruments and reduced the number of singers in the chorus without losing the music and sound quality or the interactions among performers on stage. In the end, we had 15 professional instrumentalists and 16 highly skilled singers and actors.

The planning was complex and involved a large team of enthusiastic supporters. We were fortunate to enlist experienced director Stephen Strosnider, who was working in the theater department at McDaniel College. He was able to help us secure the venue for the filming. He also arranged for the scenery and costumes through professional connections. He also led us to the engineering group of Fraimework Productions who did the recording, filming, and final edits.
Lily opera full cast and crew

We were equally fortunate to find Brazilian conductor Juliano Aniceto, an experienced opera conductor and a doctoral candidate at Peabody Conservatory, who joined the project early. With his enthusiastic support and recruiting talent, we secured an amazing orchestra with fantastic instrumentalists. He organized all the rehearsals with the instrumentalists and with the singers.

Lots of our support came from individuals and businesses not directly working on the opera itself. Annie Gill helped to recruit our lead baritone, and Kelly Stoneberger helped find chorus members, just to name a few. Lynne Griffith and the Carroll County Arts Council were extremely supportive and helpful in securing grants for the project and providing a place for rehearsals. The premier will also be held at the Carroll County Arts Council.

The principal performers are:
Soprano Katie Procell as Lily Bart Tenor Han Jeong Wook as Seldon Baritone Jeffrey Gates as Gus

Please visit Lily’s website for full details and photos

Lily will be available to view free online. As with all my musical endeavors, my goal is to make my music accessible to the public.

Garth Baxter