From ‘The Magic Flute’ to ‘Shrek’: ASU’s Lyric Opera Theatre announces lineup for 2016–2017


July 20, 2016

For 53 seasons, the Lyric Opera Theatre program at ASU has showcased the talents of student singers, dancers and actors in operas and musicals.

This upcoming season promises to continue the tradition with operas and musicals that include one of Mozart's greatest works and a show based on the movie "Shrek." The cast of ASU Lyric Opera Theatre's production of "The Drowsy Chaperone," on stage. The cast of "The Drowsy Chaperone," presented by ASU's Lyric Opera Theatre in spring 2016. Download Full Image

The program is also launching two new initiatives, including the Lyric Opera Theatre Lab, which features entirely student-driven productions, and a New Works Reading series at the ASU Kerr Cultural Center. Lab productions will take place throughout the year and will be announced at a later date.

“Our season represents great works from the past four centuries, each centering on important social issues of their time,” said Brian DeMaris, associate professor and artistic director of the Lyric. “We are also proud to be producing three works by female composers: Jeanine Tesori’s ‘Shrek the Musical’ on the main stage season, as well as readings of two new works by female composers and librettists — one opera, one musical — both involving ASU alumni. We’re excited to welcome Andrea Jill Higgins and Beth Morrison back to ASU for these exciting new projects.”

The program also presents several smaller projects each year, including a Musical Theatre Showcase, which will be held at the Phoenix Theatre this year, and the traditional end-of-the-semester Opera Scenes program.

 

Here are the upcoming performances:

"H.M.S. Pinafore" 
Music by Sir Arthur Sullivan
Libretto by W. S. Gilbert
Conductor: Brian DeMaris
Director: Dale Dreyfoos
Choreographer: Molly Lajoie
Performances: 7:30 p.m., Sept. 29-30 and Oct. 1; 2 p.m., Oct. 2 

Lyric Opera Theatre sets sail for the season with Gilbert and Sullivan’s ever-popular comic operetta “H.M.S. Pinafore,” a delightful parody of the British class system in Victorian England where “the high seas” meets “the high C’s.” This nautical treasure is filled with effervescent and tuneful music, hilarious stage action, and colorful scenery and costumes in a show for all ages.

"Babe: An Olympian Musical" (new work reading)
Music by Andrea Jill Higgins (Lyric Opera Theatre alum)
Book and lyrics by Carolyn Gage
Performance: 6 p.m., Nov. 6 at ASU Kerr Cultural Center
Free

The Lyric is proud to present a reading of this new musical composed by ASU alumna Andrea Jill Higgins and librettist Carolyn Gage, based on the story of the great American athlete Mildred “Babe” Didrikson. Full of music that is beautiful, big and brassy all at once, the story follows Babe’s career from high school basketball star to Olympic gold medalist to vaudevillian sideshow to first woman on the professional golf circuit. You will leave inspired by this brilliant new musical and the incredible woman it portrays. This performance is appropriate for ages 13 and up.

"Guys and Dolls" 
Music and lyrics by Frank Loesser
Book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows
Director: Toby Yatso
Conductor: Miles Plant
Choreographer: Molly Lajoie
Performances: 7:30 p.m., Nov. 17-19; 2 p.m., Nov. 19-20 

Frank Loesser’s classic “musical fable of Broadway” has captivated audiences for decades with its colorful characters, iconic music and endearing story about love, honesty and finding one’s true calling. Set in Damon Runyon’s mythological New York City, where disparate groups such as gamblers, evangelists and show girls come together, the story centers around a group of gamblers trying to find a place for a game, while their girls have different priorities in mind. This show is appropriate for ages 13 and up.

"The Magic Flute" 
Music by W.A. Mozart
Libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder
Conductor: Brian DeMaris
Director: Dale Dreyfoos
Performances: 7:30 p.m., Feb. 23-25; 2 p.m., Feb. 26

“The Magic Flute” has long been hailed as one of the greatest musical masterpieces of all time. Mozart’s heavenly music provides the perfect setting for this timeless fairy tale, which is an enchanting blend of magic, mystery, lofty Masonic ideals and earthy humor that is truly Shakespearean in its scope. The opera will be sung in German with English dialogue, and it is an ideal introduction to opera for audiences of all ages.

"Love: An Opera in One Act" (new work reading)
(Excerpts from a work in progress)
Music by Ellen Reid
Libretto by Roxie Perkins
Produced by Beth Morrison (ASU/Lyric Opera Theatre alum)
6 p.m., April 2 at ASU Kerr Cultural Center
Free

“Love” tells the story of a mother, V, and her daughter, L, who have locked themselves away from the world in order to heal L from a mysterious sickness that grows from within her. However, between the awakening of a new symptom and L’s maturing relationship with her chorus of imaginary friends, L and V’s carefully constructed world begins to crumble — causing L to question her mother’s motivation for locking them away and the very validity of her sickness. “Love” explores humans’ desperate need to make sense out of senseless situations, and the different ways we attempt to heal after a trauma — both one another, and ourselves. This performance is appropriate for ages 13 and up.

"Shrek the Musical" 
Music by Jeanine Tesori
Book and Lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire
Director: Matthew Wiener
Conductor: Josh Condon
Choreographer: Molly Lajoie
Performances: 7:30 p.m., April 20-22; 2 p.m., April 22-23

Based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks film, Jeanine Tesori’s “Shrek The Musical” is a Tony Award-winning fairytale adventure that brings all the beloved characters you know from the film to life on stage, and proves there’s more to the story than meets the ears. An unlikely hero finds himself on a life-changing journey alongside a wisecracking donkey and a feisty princess who resists her rescue. Irreverently fun for the whole family, Shrek proves that beauty is truly in the eye of the ogre.

 

Ticket prices: $11 – Flash Friday, $21 – adult (for all dates except Flash Friday), $15 – faculty, staff, alumni, $12 – senior, $10 – group (minimum of 10 tickets), $8 – student.

Tickets are on sale as of Aug. 1 for the general public. Save 25 percent by ordering tickets to three or more Herberger Institute events per person by Sept. 15. A $2 handling fee applies to all orders, and a web per ticket purchase fee will apply.

Summer box office hours are 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and  and 1:30–4:30 p.m., Monday–Thursday.

To order tickets and find more information on the complete season, call the Herberger Institute Box Office at 480.965.6447 or visit music.asu.edu/events/lot

Heather Beaman

Communications liaison, School of Music

480-727-6222

ASU researchers aim to pull fuels out of thin air


July 21, 2016

Nonrenewable fossil fuels give liquid fuels a bad name.

But not all liquid fuels are fossil fuels, and fuels don’t have to be dirty. The Center for Negative Carbon Emissions’ novel air-capture technology features a plastic resin that captures carbon dioxide when dry, and releases it when moist. The process has promising new applications in creating carbon-neutral liquid fuels, a greene The Center for Negative Carbon Emissions’ novel air-capture technology features a plastic resin that captures carbon dioxide when dry, and releases it when moist. The process has promising new applications in creating carbon-neutral liquid fuels, a greener alternative to fossil fuels. Photo by: Jessica Hochreiter/ASU Download Full Image

Fuels are considered dirty when they put new carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which causes pollution and the buildup of environmentally detrimental greenhouse gases. But what if rather than using fuels that add carbon dioxide, we could create fuels that recycle carbon dioxide from the atmosphere?

Researchers at Arizona State University are exploring the idea of creating fuels that do just that: carbon-neutral liquid fuels. Think of them as fuels created out of thin air.

The endeavor builds on the advances being made at ASU’s Center for Negative Carbon Emissions, which is developing a technology that collects carbon dioxide from the atmosphere using an air-capture technique that literally scrubs it from the air and then captures it so it can be reused at an affordable cost — a carbon dioxide recycling program.

This effort moves toward closing the carbon cycle, which means making sure no new carbon dioxide ends up in the atmosphere — essential for ensuring that concentrations don’t surpass unsafe limits for life on Earth.

In addition to the environmental benefits of removing carbon dioxide, excessive amounts of it can be turned into carbon-neutral liquid fuels, making it a renewable energy source.

“The answer to our search for a sustainable future is likely to involve a combination of technologies — and fuels from air will play an important role.”

— Arvind Ramachandran, ASU environmental engineering doctoral student

How exactly can fuel be pulled from thin air? Like any magic act, it is surprisingly simple.  

First, the center's researchers generate hydrogen by using a renewable, carbon-free electricity source (such as wind energy or solar power) to split water through a process called electrolysis.

Second, this gaseous hydrogen is combined with the carbon dioxide captured from air.

What does this mixture produce? Methanol, an alcohol fuel similar to ethanol. Voila! Fuel from air.

Like ethanol, methanol can be blended with gasoline or further processed into gasoline.

“When this methanol or synthetic gasoline is burned, it releases carbon dioxide and water back into the atmosphere where it can then be recaptured and reused to make more fuel,” said Steve Atkins, a Center for Negative Carbon Emissions senior engineer who specializes in this technology.

Methanol can also be converted into plastics that would be carbon negative, or into other fuels such as diesel and jet fuel.

“If we can make air-capture affordable then we have a carbon-neutral feedstock to make liquid fuels and take advantage of abundant renewable energy,” said Christophe Jospe, who was CNCE’s chief strategist from September 2014 until June of this year and is now founding The Carbon A List to highlight the most promising approaches to capturing and recycling carbon dioxide.

The big impacts of this technology are threefold.

First, it can help society to go carbon neutral. Unlike fossil fuels, carbon-neutral liquid fuels do not add greenhouse gases or generate a net carbon footprint. Limiting, and preferably reducing, our carbon footprint is essential for sustaining life.

Second, this technology is attractive because carbon-neutral liquid fuels can be used within our current industrial infrastructure.

“If we can’t use the internal combustion engines in our cars, then we have wasted assets,” Jospe said. This renewable alternative can work within society’s current infrastructure and energy system and be more sustainable.

Third, it addresses some of the limitations of other renewable energy methods. Solar and wind power experience intermittent drops in energy production. Much like traditional liquid fuels, carbon-neutral liquid fuels can be stored long-term and used in accordance with demand.

“During periods of intermittency in renewable energy, you could utilize liquid, carbon-neutral synthetic fuels to provide electrical power,” said Atkins — though he acknowledges the round-trip efficiency (electricity to fuels and back to electricity) would be low.

lab equipment
In this mobile methanol synthesis trailer senior engineer Steve Atkins produces hydrogen and mixes it with carbon dioxide, part of the process of creating a carbon-neutral liquid fuel. Photo courtesy of Steve Atkins

 

Related to our transportation fleet, Jospe said, “We don’t need to move toward a totally electrified transportation fleet. We can use fuels, but the fuels need to become carbon neutral.”

Flying an airplane with an electric battery may not be a realistic option due to the reality of energy density (how much energy is contained within a unit).

“Batteries can’t pack as much electrons into the same amount of space,” Jospe said.

That means options like jet fuel are beneficial because they are lighter weight, and can power travel across further distances. Maybe it’s easiest to say that they offer users more bang for their buck.

But nonrenewable fuels, like jet fuel, also come with nasty consequences for the environment.

Promisingly, the energy density of carbon-neutral liquid fuels can be more advantageous than current batteries. They are also better than fossil fuels because they avoid adding new carbon to the atmosphere.

Arvind Ramachandran, a first-year environmental engineering doctoral student, is advancing research in converting captured carbon dioxide into fuels and chemicals under the supervision of Klaus Lackner, the director of CNCE and a professor in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

“I think it is very clear that we have to figure out a way to become carbon negative or at least carbon neutral,” said Ramachandran, who earned his master’s degree in chemical engineering from Columbia University.

“Making sure that our mobile sources of carbon dioxide emissions, such as cars and airplanes, are running on carbon-neutral fuels represents a powerful way of achieving carbon neutrality,” he said.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s ARPA-E REFUEL program (short for Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy’s Renewable Energy to Fuels through Utilization of Energy-dense Liquids) is currently offering funding opportunities to encourage innovations in liquid fuel technology that promise significant impacts.

Jospe thinks the air-capture technique fits the need by supporting the synthesis of fuels made from the air. CNCE is currently applying for ARPA-E funding to advance this effort.

Getting fuels from air is not the only option researchers at ASU are exploring. Others are advancing the production of biofuels from algae as part of a multi-university project supported by a recently awarded $2 million grant from the Bioenergy Technologies Office in the U.S. Department of Energy.

Additional niche applications of the air-capture technology would make it possible to use it to carbonate beverages, create high-value chemicals and sequester carbon in products such as graphene, plastics and carbon fiber.

These and many other products and systems require the use of carbon dioxide.

“Let’s get that carbon from air so we know it’s carbon neutral, rather than a source that doesn’t help us close the carbon cycle,” Jospe said.

CNCE researchers will promote and build on these ideas further when ASU hosts the Fuels From Air Conference on Sept. 28-30. The conference will bring researchers from around the world to discuss closing the carbon cycle, techniques in taking fuels from air and different ways to turn carbon dioxide into fuels.

Ramachandran, a budding specialist in this new and exciting field, said it best: “The answer to our search for a sustainable future is likely to involve a combination of technologies — and fuels from air will play an important role.”

Rose Gochnour Serago

Communications Program Coordinator, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering