the difficulty of crossing a field





the difficulty of crossing a field

by David Lang and Mac Wellman; presented in partnership with Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings

  • $35 Assigned Rows 1-2
  • $25 Assigned Rows 3-5
  • $15 General Admission
  • $5 Student
  • Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings
  • Kathleen Kelly, coach/conductor
  • Madison Montambault, mezzo-soprano (Mrs. Williamson)
  • Meredith Kelly, soprano (Willamson Girl)
  • Goitsemang Lehobye, soprano (Virginia Creeper)
  • Rehanna Thelwell, mezzo-soprano (Old Woman)
  • Westley Montgomery, tenor (Boy Sam)
  • Marty Gray, tenor (Mr. Williamson/Magistrate)
  • Matthew Fleisher, bass (Armor Wren/Andrew)

Event Details

Based on a one-page story by Ambrose Bierce, the difficulty of crossing a field is a joint collaboration in musical theater between composer David Lang and playwright Mac Wellman. It recounts a strange disappearance through the explanations and impressions of the bystanders - or are they the perpetrators? Mixing arias with spoken text and emotional melodies with tense drama, the story takes place in 1854 near Selma, Alabama, where a planter named Williamson has vanished without a trace while crossing a field. 

Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings

Since its founding in 1982, Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings has set the standard for chamber music in Detroit. By bringing together the top musicians from the metro area, most of whom are members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Michigan Opera Theatre, DCWS immerses audiences in a chamber music experience that is innovative, entertaining, and unsurpassed anywhere in the region.

With chamber music as its foundation, DCWS’ mission has evolved to address the ever-changing, ever-challenging Detroit arts landscape with grand achievements. Some 30 new works have been premiered. Five compact discs have been released. Tours have stretched throughout the United States and as far as Switzerland.

Kathleen Kelly

The first woman and first American named as Director of Musical Studies at the Vienna State Opera, Kathleen Kelly is the Coach/Conductor of Opera at the University of Michigan. She has led performances at Houston Grand Opera, the Vienna State Opera, Arizona Opera, the Glimmerglass Festival, Wolf Trap Festival, Berkshire Opera, Opera Columbus, and the Alexandria Symphony. She is a prominent operatic coach for young artist programs nationally, including the training programs of the Los Angeles Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera, and Michigan Opera Theater. She has served as a judge for the Cooper Bing competition, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and the prestigious Tucker Awards. As a pianist, she has performed with singers such as Christine Goerke, Jamie Barton, Amber Wagner, Thomas Hampson, and Renee Fleming. Kathleen Kelly has been most notably associated with the Houston Grand Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, and the San Francisco Opera. She gives masterclasses, is an arranger and librettist, and is a passionate lecturer and advocate for opera in all its forms.

Madison Montambault

Madison Montambault is a native of Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where she obtained a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance from the School of Music Theatre and Dance in April 2017. Her performed roles at The University of Michigan include Dorabella (Così fan tutte,) La Prieure (Les Dialogues des Carmélites,) and Mrs. Williamson (the difficulty of crossing a field.) Previous training programs include the International Vocal Arts Institute in Montreal,QC, Canada and the Music in the Marche Summer Opera Institute in Italy.This upcoming fall she will return to The University of Michigan to pursue her Master of Music degree in Voice Performance as a graduate fellow. She is a student of acclaimed bass-baritone Stephen West.

Meredith Kelly

Meredith Lane Kelly is from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, and will be graduating from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance in 2018 with a degree in Vocal Performance. During the past year, she has performed in various SMTD productions including Romeo et Juliette by Charles Gounod (chorus), and A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Benjamin Britten (Peaseblossom). She first performed her role as the Williamson Girl in David Lang’s The Difficulty of Crossing A Field in April of 2017, and is thrilled to revive this incredible piece. She would like to thank her family, friends, teachers, and colleagues for their unfathomable love and support. 

Goitsemang Lehobye

Goitsemang Lehobye was born in Ga-Rankuwa, South Africa and first heard opera performed during a television broadcast featuring the South African Black Tie Opera Ensemble. After finishing school she followed her dream by joining the Black Tie Ensemble's “Incubator” Scheme. In 2011 Goitsemang won a scholarship to study singing with Hanna van Niekerk and Prof Kamal Khan at the University of Cape Town’s College of Music. Productions include La Boheme, Postcards from Morocco, Don Giovanni and most recently Violetta in the joint UCT/Cape Town Opera production of La Traviata to great acclaim. She was invited as guest soloist in opera galas featuring Johan Botha and Neil Schicoff. She often performs as soloist with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, and in October 2015 she premiered a new song cycle by South African composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen, conducted by Perry So. In December 2015 she was invited to perform in a new opera by David Earl in Cambridge, England. 2016 highlights included singing as soloist for Opera Galas with renowned tenor Johan Botha in Cape Town and Johannesburg and touring to Argentina as Serena in the Cape Town Opera production of Porgy and Bess.

Goitsemang moved to the USA at the beginning of 2017 to continue her studies at the University of Michigan with Daniel Washington. 

Rehanna Thelwell

Rehanna Thelwell began her studies in 2009 at Northern Arizona University with Soprano Deborah Raymond. Throughout her undergraduate career, Ms. Thelwell has performed roles such as Ulrica from Un Ballo in Maschera, La Principessa from Suor Angelica and has staged “The Ride of the Valkyries” as Schwertleite. In 2014 she was accepted into the Graduate program at the University of Michigan under the instruction of Contralto Nadine Washington. Since then, Ms. Thelwell has completed the roles of Cornelia from Giulio Cesare, Zita from Gianni Schicchi and JeĹžibaba from Rusalka. In 2016 she premiered the opera workshop production of Bright Sheng’s Dream of the Red Chamber as Lady Wang. Later that year she had the opportunity to participate in The University of Michigan’s Mahler Symphony No. 2 as the Alto soloist.

This year, Ms. Thelwell will be a returning artist of the Wagner Institute through the Miami Summer Music Festival along with portraying Carlotta in William Bolcom’s Dinner at Eight. 

Westley Montgomery

Tenor Westley Montgomery is currently a first year Masters student at the University of Michigan. Recent roles include Boy Sam The Difficulty of Crossing a Field, Benvolio Romeo et Juliette, Maestro Spinellocchio Gianni Schicchi, and Tamino Die Zauberflöte (scenes) all with the University of Michigan. Recent recital engagements include presentations of Schumann’s Dichterliebe and Barber’s Hermit Songs. Montgomery is an alumnus of The CoOperative Program at Westminster Choir College, and holds a Bachelors in Vocal Performance from the University of Michigan. 

Marty Gray

Marty Gray is a producer, composer, and performer working in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Marty earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and is interested and well-versed in a wide variety of contemporary artforms. Marty's artistic experience ranges from electronic solo composition, jazz vocals, experimental dance theater, and opera, to acapella arranging, world-music percussion, and screen acting. Marty enjoys the Great Lakes, disc golf, and the way paint looks when it's being mixed.

Matthew Fleisher

Matthew Fleisher currently attends the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Musical Arts degree in Vocal Performance under the guidance of David Daniels. Performing with the Wolf Trap Opera Company, Brevard Music Center, Michigan Opera Theatre, and University of Michigan Opera; Matthew's past roles include Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, The Jailer in Tosca, The Servant in The Fall of the House of Usher, Theseus in A Midsummer Night Dream, Snug in A Midsummer Night Dream, in addition to numerous opera choruses and scene work.