“[on Wise Blood] somber and atmospheric, veering from unsettlingly clamorous to eerily serene. Though there are comic moments in the show, laughter dies quickly and may be replaced by tears; in its total effect, the piece is almost an American requiem.”
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Anthony Gatto (b. 1962) has developed a diverse body of works often adapting literary and visual art for opera, film, theater, dance, and concert halls. He wrote the music and libretto for the opera Wise Blood, adapting the novel by Flannery O'Connor. Commissioned by the Walker Art Center, the opera presents the shattered war veteran Hazel Motes preaching the Church Without Christ from the hood of his car. The immersive Minneapolis premiere production featured singers accompanied by a 13-piece second-line brass band, with audiences moving through a huge factory space designed with installations by Chris Larson depicting scenes in the novel. Wise Blood's two week, sold-out run was celebrated in several reviews.
Anthony's music and libretto for his opera, The Making of Americans, adapted the massive cubist novel by Gertrude Stein. Also commissioned by the Walker Art Center, the opera presents Stein's spectacular, universalist language through personae sketching three generations of American families.
"Radio opera" versions of Wise Blood and The Making of Americans were recently released on New Focus Recordings.
Anthony studied music with Ornette Coleman in the 1980s, later founding The Festival Dancing in Your Head celebrating his ideas and influences. The festival commissioned and presented hundreds of artists from around the world.
Since completing a doctorate in music composition at the Yale School of Music, his work has been performed widely in the U.S., Europe, South America, and Singapore. His work has been supported with awards and fellowships from the Fulbright Scholar Program (Berlin, Germany), New York Foundation for the Arts, the Bush Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Meet the Composer, Inc, an ASCAP Grant to Young Composers; residency fellowships at Yaddo, The Millay Colony for the Arts, Aaron Copland House, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Willapa Bay Artist-in-Residence program. He is an Associate Professor of Music at City University of New York.
Recent projects in progress include Stalker, an opera based on the film by Andrey Tarkovsky; and Swerves in the Miracle of Being, a climate disaster odyssey adapting texts by Lucretius, Homer, Epicurus, and others.
The film score for A Chest of Drawers, written and directed by Maxwell Nalevansky, was an Official Selection at the Brooklyn Film Festival 2019, and many other international film festivals in the U.S, Canada, and South America;
Klangfarbenmelodie for Ornette, commissioned by Duo Montagnard, was recently released on Radiance: New Works for Saxophone and Guitar (2021).
New Focus Recordings released albums of his operas: The Making of Americans (2020) and Wise Blood (2020)
Listen to the complete The Making of Americans on Bandcamp