is to be performed at Roulette in a world premiere next week in New York City on Jan. 16 & 17.
STRANGER LOVEAct I is the tale of two lovers, in the tradition of Orpheus & Euridice, Heloise & Abelard, Rick & Elsa. Written to the rhythm of the seasons, Spring is the encounter; Summer, the unfolding; Autumn, the threat from without; Winter, the threat from within. Narration and abstraction vie for preeminence, as the protagonists struggle to comprehend the paradox of human love — the bondage that is liberation, the coincidence of fate and freedom, of pleasure and pain, of time and transcendence. Act II re-frames the story: no longer individual, it is now archetypal. The singers, who were on stag in Act I as in traditional opera, join the instrumental ensemble and the action on stage belongs to six dancers in three pairs, each pair moving toward one another slowly, inexorably. The music and lighting retrace the progression of seasons. Jet trails unfurl across a Summer sky. Light snow falls in Winter. The dance on stage culminates differently for each couple: one pair meets in a kiss; one pair collides and falls; one pair… misses. After a second intermission, Act III begins in complete darkness. No singers, no dancers: just a constellation of lights scattered vertically through the space which move away from the center a slightly different speeds, creating depth as though the audience is traveling into the negative space. The music, however, is not a dying away, but a revelation of vitality, pure joy, the velocity of universal expansion. The opera ends in pitch black.
Music by Dylan Mattingly
Libretto by Thomas Bartscherer
Concept by Thomas Bartscherer and Dylan Mattingly
The unstated architecture of the opera is drawn from Plato’s Symposium. Act I presents love in a human and personal frame, as in Alcibiades’ speech. The second act follows Aristophanes in depicting an archetypal account love. Act III is inspired by the vision of divine love — a love supreme — that Socrates attributes to the priestess Diotima.
The audience is invited to leave and re-enter quietly, as desired.