Music and libretto by Ken Ueno
Directed by Sarah Meyers
Premiere: May 22, 2014
Location: The Zack Box at The Boston Conservatory (Boston, MA)
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“The music is rich in inspiration, elegantly stark in effect… very much an experimental opera, not only in its willingness to try anything, but in that its dramatic impulse is, in essence, its inventive impulse… demonstrating that the family tree still produces surprising branches.” MATTHEW GUERRIERI, THE BOSTON GLOBE
“uninhibited… ravishingly beautiful…” LLOYD SCHWARTZ, NEW YORK ARTS
“Musically, Ueno never errs.” BOSTON CLASSICAL REVIEW
“the ensemble leaves you breathless, wondering how they accomplished what seems like an impossible marathon of a score so seamlessly and effortlessly.” MY ENTERTAINMENT WORLD
“extraordinary musicianship and courageous creativity.” NORTHSHORE ART THROB
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION:
“Gallo: a fable in music in one act,” is a new chamber opera with music and libretto by Rome-Prize winning composer Ken Ueno, and direction by Metropolitan Opera stage director Sarah Meyers. This opera investigates how the landscape and man shape and transform each other. It also addresses the fundamental question of ontology, “the chicken or the egg,” and features a soprano in a Houdini box filled with Cheerios and a countertenor in a chicken suit. “Gallo” is an installation and immersive audience experience performed in the round. The audience is asked to remove their shoes before they enter the space, which will be transformed into a boardwalk bordering a beach made out of Cheerios. The audience sits on the boardwalk as the Mother/Shopper and Galante/Farinelli, the Gallo, are born from the Cheerios landscape. They interactively experience memories and question their creative existence by tossing beach balls back and forth, creating a web of string attached to a flying kite, and finally inviting the audience into the beach of Cheerios to share a final moment with the ensemble. Scored for percussion, alto saxophone, bass clarinet, cello, electronics, soprano and countertenor, Guerilla Opera presented the world premiere on May 23, 2014 at The Boston Conservatory’s Zack Box Theater, where they are an Ensemble-in-Residence.
FROM THE COMPOSER:
Gallo is an evening-long chamber opera that investigates how the landscape and man shape and transform each other. The main inspiration for the work is places where traces of human civilization, ancient and modern, have decayed over time and have transformed into landscapes that now appear to be more natural than manmade. These spaces are repositories of human memory on one hand, but also confound man’s sense of agency and freedom, and his sense of mastery over nature. Examples of these spaces are: Monte Testaccio, a hill in Rome, now rife with discos, which was made into a hill as an ancient site where clay vases were deposited; the Disabitato, the region in Rome, within the Aurelian wall, where the landscape reclaimed uninhabited space during the 18th century; and Detroit. Throughout the chamber opera, arias comment on these spaces, over the backdrop of a landscape, a beach, made of Cheerios. The beach of Cheerios gives birth to a human protagonist, serves as a repository of memory (as a screen for projections of family trips to the beach), and ultimately serves as a Zen garden of contemplation. Several arias intercut the various transformations of the beach. In one, a rooster, named Farinelli, sings a non-sense aria, in chicken-ese (with English supertitles), about the fundamental questions of ontology, the chicken or the egg. In another aria, a female protagonist waxes admiringly about bee eaters, beautiful birds that eat bees, but is afraid that their beauty might kill us all.