Ophelia's Gaze (2008) - a chamber opera
music, live audio and video, staging - Steve EVERETT
text - Bellocq's Ophelia (Graywolf Press, 2002) - Natasha TRETHEWEY
soprano - Katherine BLUMENTHAL
strings - VEGA QUARTET
video "Shiver" - Isabelle DEHAY
costume and stage design - Leslie TAYLOR
1. Bellocq’s Ophelia voice, speaker (N. Trethewey), digital audio
2. Letter Home - voice, quartet, digital audio
3. Letters from Storyville: December 1910 - speaker, digital audio
4. Countess P’s Advice - voice, quartet
5. February 1911, Spectrum - speaker, digital audio
6. March, 1911 - speaker, quartet
7. Bellocq - speaker, digital audio
8. Vignette - voice, cello, live motion capture video
9. Shiver - voice, digital audio, video
10. (Self) Portrait, Postcard - speaker, digital audio
Notes - This is a monodrama structured as a reverie on Ophelia, the young girl portrayed in Emory poet, Natasha Trethewey’s collection, Bellocq’s Ophelia. The set of poems was written as a narrative sequence and contains the imagined thoughts and perceptions of one of the young prostitutes photographed by E. J. Bellocq in 1912 who worked in a brothel in the Storyville section of New Orleans. The aural-visual relationships in my composition will unfold as a series of tableau using the consciousness of dreams, memories, and reveries described in French philosopher Gaston Bachelard’s last work, La Poétique de la Réverie (1960).
The text is sung and spoken by a soprano/narrator who encounters multiple reflections of her own image and the environment in which she exists or imagines. She interacts musically with the string quartet members and visually with her own images reflected in video “mirrors.” Video cameras and microphones are used to transform her visual identity and voice through interactive computer-processing programs. Technology used in the performance include MaxMSP live music processing environment, a hemispherical audio speaker array, and an interactive video motion capture system developed for this production. This video system consists of infrared light, motion-capture hardware combined with the Eyecon Motion Sensing software and Isadora Graphic Programming Environment.
Steve Everett, composer
Steve Everett is Professor of Music and teaches composition, computer music, and directs the Music-Audio Research Center at Emory University. In addition he has recently been a visiting professor of composition at Princeton University, Eastman School of Music, Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, the Conservatoire de Musique de Genève in Switzerland, Rotterdam Conservatory of Music, and Utrecht School of the Arts. Many of his recent compositions involve performers with computer-controlled electronics and have been performed in seventeen different countries throughout Europe, Asia, and North America, including at IRCAM and INA-GRM Radio France in Paris, Orgelpark in Amsterdam, The Esplanade in Singapore, University of Göteborg-Sweden, Korea Computer Music Festival in Seoul, Royal Northern College of Music in England, Amerika Haus in Cologne-Germany, Tokyo Denki University, and Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and Merkin Hall in New York. Composition awards have been received from the Rockefeller Foundation, Asian Cultural Council, Chamber Music America, American Composers Forum, and International Trumpet Guild. He is recorded on SCI, Crystal, Mark, Frog Peak and ACA Digital Records. He has been a resident research fellow at the Rockefeller Study Center in Bellagio, Italy, Liguria Foundation in Bogliasco, Italy, and at the Center for Humanistic Inquiry at Emory University. In 1998 he received the Mayor’s Fellowship in the Arts, awarded by the City of Atlanta, the city’s highest recognition of artistic achievement. In addition to substantial experience conducting opera and orchestral repertoire, he has presented over 200 works of contemporary music as conductor of Thamyris New Music Ensemble in Atlanta since 1992. His doctoral degree in composition is from the University of Illinois studying with Salvatore Martirano. He also studied composition with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Witold Lutoslawski at Dartington Hall in England and has received foundation support for music study in Bali, Java, and India. He served as chair of the Department of Music and interim director of the Center for Humanistic Inquiry at Emory University.
Leslie Taylor, stage designer
Leslie Taylor, the inaugural director of the Center for Creativity & Arts in Emory College, has extensive experience in teaching, design and management. She has designed sets and costumes for over 100 productions. Currently Chair of the Theater Studies Program at Emory University, she also served as the Artistic Director for Theater Emory's 2000-2001 season. She is the resident designer for Theater Emory, and has designed for the GA Shakespeare, the Center for Puppetry Arts, the Alliance Theater, Georgia Ensemble Theater, and Theatrical Outfit. Her work has been seen at Opera Theater St. Louis; GEVA Theater in Rochester, NY; Merrimack Theater; Portland Stage Company; Indiana Repertory Theater; and Off-Broadway. On Broadway she was the Associate Designer with Ming Cho Lee on the Tony award-winning production of K-2 and The Glass Menagerie starring Jessica Tandy. She was also the Associate Designer for The Odd Couple starring Rita Moreno and Sally Struthers. In 1983, she received a Maharam Award for her work on K-2 and has had her work chosen as "Best of Atlanta" by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and Creative Loafing. She received her BA with Honors from Wellesley College, her MFA from New York University School of the Arts, and a post-graduate study from The League of Professional Theater Training Programs.
Isabelle Dehay, video artist
Isabelle Dehay, was born in Paris and currently lives and works in Nantes, France. For more than ten years, she has undertaken experimental research on the language of film, cinema, and video. Painter of an image, "I intervene closely with the signal which generates the image, by extracting pictorial qualities from films with a tactile sensitivity. The films question verticality, rise, the fall, the take-off or the aspiration and the attraction of the bodies. In a cyclic and rhythmic flow, the time or times of film is juxtaposed. The images operate through reminiscent echoes, unfolding, and stretching. Through the narration of a visual, sensory and experimental language, the images induce a parallel search for the interaction of image with sound." After finishing her studies at L’école des Beaux arts de Nantes (Higher National Diploma of plastic expression, 1995), she created many short films in 16 mm, ("HERE LOW" 1996, "My doubles" 1999, "what Joffre" 2001) as well as videos presented along with performances of impromptu music (Jean Chevalier, Anthony Taillard) influenced by jazz (Jean Patrick Cosset, Pierre-Yves Merel) and contemporary composers (the harpist Murielle Schreder, the composer Arturo Gervasoni.) She took part in the creation of music-video spectacles (project with the Mukta group and the Mix-City group), and carried out various video creations for the theatre ("Alice, small form explosive" 1999, "Kékédala" 2005). In addition she has developed teaching aids used in creating links between cinema and numerical art. (edition Scopitone 2005) within the Nantes association of experimental cinema, Reflect, and with the castle of Oiron (Center of contemporary art).
Natasha Trethewey, poet
Natasha Trethewey was born in Gulfport, Mississippi. Her first poetry collection, Domestic Work (Graywolf Press, 2000), won the inaugural 1999 Cave Canem poetry prize (selected by Rita Dove), a 2001 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize, and the 2001 Lillian Smith Award for Poetry. Her second collection, Bellocq's Ophelia (Graywolf, 2002), received the 2003 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize, was a finalist for both the Academy of American Poets' James Laughlin and Lenore Marshall prizes, and was named a 2003 Notable Book by the American Library Association. Her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry 2003 and 2000, and in journals such as Agni, American Poetry Review, Callaloo, Gettysburg Review, Kenyon Review, New England Review, and The Southern Review, among others. She has a B.A. in English from the University of Georgia, an M.A. in English and Creative Writing from Hollins University, and an M.F.A in poetry from the University of Massachusetts. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bunting Fellowship Program of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has taught at Auburn University, the University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill, and Duke University where she was the 2005-2006 Lehman Brady Joint Chair Professor of Documentary and American Studies. Her recent collection, Native Guard (Houghton Mifflin 2006), won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. She is the recipient of the 2008 Mississippi Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts for Poetry and was also named the 2008 Georgia Woman of the Year.
Katherine Blumenthal, coloratura soprano
A two-time Metropolitan Opera district winner and regional finalist in 2008, Soprano Katherine Blumenthal currently lives in Paris, France where she moved after completing a Master of Music in Vocal Performance at the New England Conservatory and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music and Literature from Emory University. She also studied composition at the Conservatoire International de Paris. Katherine has been a participant in Opera Works in Los Angeles and the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. Among her performance credits she has sung the role of the Queen of the Night and Giunone in La Calisto with NEC Opera Theatre, and the world premieres of Nuits by Lee Hoiby and Tembang Gede by Steven Everett at IRCAM at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. During the 2007-2008 season, she performed the role of Queen of the Night with the San Diego Opera Ensemble.
Quartet in Residence at Emory University, the Vega String Quartet is on the cutting edge of the new generation of chamber music ensembles. After the Vega made its Lincoln Center debut in 2001 the New York Times raved "playing that had a kind of clean intoxication to it, pulling the listener along…the musicians took real risks in their music making…" and the Los Angles Times praised their "Triumphant L.A. Debut” in 2002. Other recent engagements include performances in Paris, Cologne, Mexico City, New York, Tokyo, Vancouver and Atlanta. They have appeared at numerous music festivals including Aspen, Mostly Mozart, Rockport, Highlands-Cashiers, Musicorda, Kingston, and SummerFest La Jolla among others. They were the quartet-in-residence at the Van Cliburn Institute and on the artist roster of Carnegie Hall's New York City Neighborhood Concert series, and in 2003-04 they joined the Community Concerts Association touring ensembles as the only string quartet on their roster. The quartet's live broadcast credits include NPR's Performance Today (USA), the National Radio of China, Shanghai TV, Radio France, France Musiques, and the National Radio of the Czech Republic. In addition, they were visiting Artists-in-Residence at Emory University in Atlanta performing the complete Cycle of Beethoven Quartets and playing and teaching throughout the community. The 2004-05 season included debut tours of Korea and Japan as well as performances at New York's Bargemusic series and at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall. Starting in September of 2006, the Vega Quartet is the first ever full-time Quartet-in-Residence at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Their main concert project of the 06-07 season was "Bach and Bartok" - the complete six string quartets by Bela Bartok combined with the 6 solo violin Sonatas and Partitas and 6 cello Suites by J.S.Bach played in six concerts throughout the season. They also appeared at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall again in February of 2007, and made their Zankel Hall debut with Richard Stoltzman. The 2008-09 season will feature a number of world premiers including works by Steve Everett, Richard Prior and John Anthony Lennon, and collaborations with the vocal group Lionheart and the Emory Dance Program. They will also tour Europe again and make their debut in Belgium in the fall. The Vega Quartet has won numerous international competitions including four of the top six prizes at the 1999 Bordeaux String Quartet Competition (including the international music critics' prize), the Coleman Chamber Ensemble Competition, the Carmel Chamber Music Competition, and the National Society of Arts and Letters String Quartet Competition.
For more information, steveeverett.org