"Mezzo-soprano and rising powerhouse Samantha Hankey starred as the Elf and did not disappoint. Hertzberg’s technically difficult score caused no hesitation from Hankey, her luxurious and vibrant sound navigating an enormous range with seeming ease and impeccable dramatic intent."
"Hertzberg explains that “The Rose Elf is about this elf who lives inside of a rose and witnesses a sort of incestuous love-triangle tragedy, and gives the work an overtone that’s like ‘Don’t do bad things, because someone’s always watching you.’"
"Samantha Hankey, a mezzo from Massachusetts, starred as The Elf in The Rose Elf, by David Hertzberg, produced by Unison Media at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn in June. It was one of the most important opera events of the year."
Samantha Hankey and composer David Hertzberg discuss The Rose Elf, a new opera in which the title role was written for Ms. Hankey.
THE ROSE ELF NEW YORK TIMES
When he saw the catacomb last fall, Mr. Ousley immediately saw its potential. “I got the same feeling as when I first stepped into the crypt,” he said. The challenge was to find suitable programming. Meeting over coffee at Christmastime with Samantha Hankey, a young mezzo-soprano, he mentioned his quest. “I have an opera that’s an hour long, and it’s perfect,” she told him. “It’s about death and elves and dirt.”
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE ROSE ELF
"Particularly, with David Hertzberg, I can be guided by his emotional intent for both the text he has written and the music, rather than just tempo or harmony. It is so nice that you can skip all of the guesswork!"
"IN HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSON's VERSION of the rose elf -
– largely ripped from the Decameron, in which those who had fortified themselves in a castle to escape the bubonic plague below were asked to tell stories for entertainment – Hertzberg explains that, “The Rose Elf is about this elf who lives inside of a rose and witnesses a sort of incestuous love-triangle tragedy, and gives the work an overtone that’s like ‘Don’t do bad things, because someone’s always watching you.’ This lurid and strange material just seemed ripe for an opera. In my adaptation of the story, the elf is this erotic, sensual, gender-fluid figure who lives for pleasure inside of the rose. Played by the marvelous mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey, for whom I specifically wrote the role, the elf witnesses this terrible tragedy, this sort of incestuous menage-a-trois, and is ultimately affected and transformed by it. The pleasure of the rose ultimately consumes the elf – in one scene she is actually smothered inside of the scalding rose as it is pressed to one of the lover’s chest while she is inside of it.” Neither Hertzberg nor Rose Elf director R.B. Schlather knew that this sensual and erotic work was going to be performed in the catacombs – but were elated when the opportunity presented itself. The Rose Elf was work-shopped in Philadelphia under the Opera Philadelphia Composer in Residence Program (supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation), and it was there that Hertzberg, Schlather, and Hankey began to look for a home for the show. According to Hertzberg, it was actually after a coffee meeting between Samantha Hankey and Unison Media president Andrew Ousley that the show found its home.”
Catacombs, June 2018
Double Exposure, May 2018
Catacombs, June 2018
THE ROSE ELF
The Angel's Share
"The production, directed by R.B. Schlather, featured a strong cast. In the title role, Samantha Hankey gave a vividly dramatic yet otherworldly performance."
"That the Elf’s vocal line also dips down into a sustained, almost jazzy chest register more than suits mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey in the role. Neither visually nor aurally is she the mite of Andersen’s story; rather, she could be Hecate or Parvati, a fully bloomed goddess of creation and destruction."
"As the titular Rose Elf, Samantha Hankey was something of a charming contradiction: practically helpless, but tremendous in both voice and presence. Within the confines of the catacombs, there were even moments when Hankey’s resonance could be felt through my very clothes."
"The luminous voice and commanding physical presence of the mezzo Samantha Hankey – tall and statuesque in a silvery dress, her hands and part of her face stained red – embodied the title character’s hidden strength instead of Tinkerbell clichés."