Ricky Ian Gordon was born on May 15, 1956 in Oceanside, NY and raised on Long Island. After studying composition at Carnegie Mellon University, he settled in New York City, where he quickly emerged as a leading writer of vocal music that spans art song, opera, and musical theater.

Mr. Gordon's songs have been performed and or recorded by such internationally renowned singers as Renée Fleming, Dawn Upshaw, Nathan Gunn, Judy Collins, Kelli O'Hara, Audra MacDonald, Kristin Chenoweth, Nicole Cabell, the late Lorraine Hunt LiebersonFrederica Von Stade, Andrea MarcovicciHarolyn Blackwell, and Betty Buckley, among many others.

Mr. Gordon is very interested in musical theater and he has written many musicals including My Life with AlbertineDream TrueStates of Independence, and Only Heaven. In 2010 a new musical, Sycamore Trees, debuted at the Signature Theater, for which it was written. Sycamore Trees was nominated for The Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding Play or Musical by The Helen Hayes Awards Organization, and won a Helen Hayes Award for Best Ensemble.

His OBIE Award winning, hour-long song cycle in two acts, Orpheus and Euridice, was given a very well received stage debut as part of the Lincoln Center New Visions/ American Songbook series under the auspices of the Great Performers series on October 5, 2005.

Other recent works include: and flowers pick themselves/Five Songs for High Voice and Orchestra on poems by e.e. cummings, Night Flight To San Francisco, an operatic monologue for soprano and orchestra premiered by Renée Fleming, using Harper's final monologue from Tony Kushner's play "Angels In America," and The Grapes of Wrath, a full-scale opera in three acts with a libretto by Michael Korie based on John Steinbeck’s celebrated novel of the same name. The Grapes of Wrath had its hugely successful premiere at the Minnesota Opera in 2007 in a production that traveled to Utah Opera in May. It has also been done at Carnegie Hall in a concert version with Jane Fonda narrating, and an all star cast. The summer of 2008 saw the premiere of Gordon’s hour-long song cycle, Green Sneakers, for Baritone and String Quartet. This powerful piece, a setting of 14 poems by the composer, chronicles the final days of Gordon’s longtime partner, Jeffrey Grossi, who died of AIDS in 1996. It was recently premiered at  New York's Lincoln Center.

Ricky Ian Gordon has recently been commissioned by both Opera Theatre of St. Louis to compose 27, an opera about Gertrude Stein at 27 rue de Fleurus, for acclaimed mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, with librettist Royce Vavrek, and The Metropolitan Opera, with Pulitzer Prize/McArthur Award winning playwright Lynn Nottage, to adapt her award winning play Intimate Apparel. He has just completed an operatic adaptation of Giorgio Bassani's novel, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, with librettist Michael Korie (The Grapes Of Wrath), and his Morning Star with a libretto by William M. Hoffman, will premiere at Cincinnati Opera in their 2015 season. His opera The Tibetan Book of the Dead, with a libretto by Jean Claude Van Itallie, which was commissioned by, and premiered at Houston Grand Opera in 1996, will have it's West Coast Premiere with The Bay City Symphony in May, 2014. 

His newest opera, A Coffin in Egypt, with a libretto by Leonard Foglia based on a play by Horton Foote, and directed by the librettist, was co-commissioned by Opera Philadelphia and Houston Grand Opera to premiere in 2014. A Coffin in Egypt follows the 90-year-old grand dame Myrtle Bledsoe as she reminisces about her life on and off an Egypt, Texas ranch. The beloved mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade makes her Opera Philadelphia debut in this new production in 2014.


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The Aurora Series is underwritten by the Wyncote Foundation.
Production underwritten in part by the Aaron Copland Fund for Music.

A Coffin in Egypt
A Chamber Opera in One Act
Based on A Coffin in Egypt, a play by Horton Foote
Commissioned by Houston Grand Opera, Opera Philadelphia, and the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
Premiered by the Houston Grand Opera in March, 2014
Co-production with Houston Grand Opera and the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
Horton Foote's dramatic stage play A Coffin in Egypt, upon which the opera is based, is owned by Sunday Rock Corporation
Audio excerpts courtesy of Houston Grand Opera