The big night for contemporary classical music at the Summer Music Festival, sponsored by The Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey, comes on Saturday, August 20, at 7:30 p.m., in the auditorium of Grace Church, 4 Madison Avenue, Madison, NJ.  Enthusiastic about the presentation of Gesualdo—A Music Drama, Dr. Butts, founder, artistic director and conductor of the Orchestra, said:  “The story is based on the tragic true life of early Baroque composer Carlo Gesualdo and his marriage to Leonora d’Este.  The story is truly operatic in nature.  My music is lyrical and shows my influences from composers as diverse as Puccini and Sondheim, yet retains my own individual style.”

The drama was written by acclaimed New Jersey playwright Jewel Seehaus-Fisher, of Highland Park,  with 12 original compositions by Dr. Butts. Ms. Seehaus-Fisher has twice been awarded the NJ State Fellowship in the Arts in Playwriting.  She has been a finalist in the Samuel French Festival, Moondance Film Festival, Playwrights Platform Fest and Actors Theatre of Louisville (twice). 

Her full-length plays, in addition to Gesualdo, include Trio Sonata, Fanny and Walt, Wilde in Leadville, Wilde Night in the Rockies.  Her ballad operas, Cakes and Ale, with a new plot every year, have been a feature of the Baroque Music Festival for four years.  She has had numerous short plays produced in New York, Seattle, and San Francisco.

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As a composer, Maestro Butts has had many chamber music works, as well as several orchestra works, performed throughout the New York-New Jersey area. His musical theater work of Gesualdo, written in collaboration with Ms. Seehaus-Fisher, has been performed at the New York Dramatists Guild in Manhattan.  He is currently composing an opera to a libretto by Ms. Seehaus-Fisher, based on the lives of Ulysses S. Grant and Mark Twain. 

He is a major contributor to the contemporary music performances at The Bell and Barter Theatre and Cultural Arts Center in Rockaway, NJ, presented byIn  MidAir Productions. 

This selection will be preceded by a short chamber music concert of works composed by BONJ musicians, including  Suite on the Tell-Tale Heart, by Dr. Butts,  premiered in October, 2010, based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. Other music features compositions by the Orchestra’s violinist Anthony Bevilacqua and bassoonist Andrew Pecota

Tickets for this concert are priced at:Adults, $20; Seniors,  $15; Students (under 22, with ID) $5. They can be purchased online at www.baroqueorchestra.org; by calling 973-366-8922; or at the door the day of the event.