Calling: An Opera of Forgiveness
by Wickham Boyle
directed by Wickham Boyle
Calling: An Opera of Forgiveness is conceived and directed by Wickham Boyle from her book, A Mother’s Essays from Ground Zero, with an electro-acoustic score by award-winning composer Douglas Geers. Calling follows the up-close experience of one TriBeCa family on September 11, 2001, and the month immediately following it. The work features a set by designer/architect Marty Kapell, music direction by Edith Hirshtal, choreography by Edisa Weeks, and lighting design by Burke Brown. The multiracial cast includes soprano Nicole Tori (mother), bassbaritone Roland Burks (father), soprano Nique Haggerty (daughter) and boy soprano Jesse Murray (son). The live chamber ensemble, composed of Jay Hassler (clarinet), Edith Hirshtal (piano), Chihiro Shibayama (percussion), Maja Cerar (violin), William Martina (cello) and Douglas Geers (computers), will be conducted by Hiroya Miura. “There isn’t a more iconic, dramatic moment in our modern history than September 11th,” says Boyle who, last year, began collaborating with Geers to transform her book of highly personal and moving essays into the operatic medium. Told from the point of view of a mother (a longtime downtown resident), Calling captures the reactions and reflections of one family witnessing the attack on the World Trade Center at close range, and the path they take to move from chaos to recovery and hope. The opera’s overture begins with the back and forth “calling” of three distinct voices – the family (including children and friends), the Workers (the rescuers and those in the Towers) and the Antagonists (unseen) – each relying on rhythm and pattern to create a sense of urgency. As the musical drama progresses, dissonance moves to harmony. In Calling, acoustic instruments, cinematic sound design (buzzing, chirping, droning, whirring and clanking), and electronic processing (including the use of Nintendo Wii remotes) combine to create a vibrant textural flow that evokes bristling urban actions, feelings of fear and loss, and more contemplative states. Geers states: “The characters’ voices flutter through this mix as if jazz soloists through fast chord changes – repeating motives, reacting to the instrumental material, and seeking tonal anchors amid the shifting harmonic ground.” Over the last eighteen months, segments of Calling have been workshopped at the Spark Festival in Minneapolis, MN (February 2008), Princeton University, NJ (May 2008), the Sonic Divergence festival at Northwestern University, IL (April 2008), and Cornelia Street Café in NYC (June and November 2007). La MaMa’s presentation marks the first time the work is shown in its entirety to the public.
9/12/2008 at 8:00pm