Olympus Over the City

has been in development for three years. Its realization as a fully staged opera will involve a full spectrum of theatrical elements: sound, music, movement, and decor. The latter principally involves large paper installations, onto which still and moving images are projected. These installations are a dynamic part of the stage action, as performers not only move through the landscape they provide but actually interact with it, for example, deconstructing the images projected on the paper by jumping through them. The dramatic quality of light and shadow on this paperscape complements the surreal drama that unfolds of human suffering and survival. The opera depicts the plight of refugees through war and chaos, using sung cries, prayers, curses, shrieks, and pleas, interwoven with spoken text and with electronic sounds. A range of diverse sound is deployed as dramatic tension builds and resolves: abrasive mechanical noises balance out whispers, chants, and ethereal sounds. The story is ostensibly of the Refugee's plight, but she is the archetypal victim of ethnic violence, war, and other social devastations, and her story contains a multiplicity of stories, these stories of devastation that are the keynotes of human history. As the opera unfolds, the Refugee leads us on an interior journey through her memories, which are likewise not her memories alone but are representative of universal tragedies. Through her story, we encounter not only human tragedy but also resilience as we discover the strength of her hope and her determination to survive. The dramatic intensity of this opera, combined with its unusual use of space, sound and movement, make for a compelling theatrical experience that is both riveting in its daring design and uplifting in its underlying humanitarian themes.

About Opera Brut

Since 1983, Goedé has been developing the performance art form she calls Opera Brut. Opera Brut works always involve certain elements: Installations, often comprising found objects, occupy the performance space.These installations are abstract and mutable they are not static decor, performers manipulate them and adapt them as landscape, costume, props, etc. The effects of lighting, particularly projections, further expand the range of the installations. A live chamber orchestra shares the stage with dancer-actor-singers; while each performer has a particular talent, any one may sing, move, speak. The live music is layered over a pre-recorded electronic score, which structures the work. Performers are as mutable as the installations, they too may change character or function throughout the performance.Though Goedé conceives and produces the opera, collaborators are integral to its realization.

About Olympus Over the City

In this opera, the above principles are realized in the following ways: Paper installations occupy the performance space throughout the opera. These installations are moved, torn, crumpled, and rearranged to become fields for projections, costumes, shields, mountains, wings, and rubble. Projections onto the installations change their nature and function so that, for example, the same piece can evoke a bombed-out building and, later, a peaceful field In addition to a core group of 8 performers (the Ensemble) and the Chamber Orchestra (8 instrumentalists), there is a Greek Chorus of 5-7. This Chorus comprises 5-7 supporting performers, recruited from the host community. The Chorus comments on the activities of the Ensemble through its recitation of French poetry. The pre-recorded score is based on Goedés composition Dona Nobis Pacem and includes pre-recorded contributions from the instrumentalists and vocalists. This score is layered with the performers live sounds, which are picked up by microphones and electronically manipulated in real time. The central figure in this opera is the Refugee, but this role is filled by different performers at different times or even, in the third episode, by several performers at once. The other roles are occupied by the core Ensemble in a fluid manner the same person may be a warrior one moment and a victim soon after. This blurring of human categories exposes both how fundamentally the same and how infinitely malleable we are -- how easily we are changed by circumstance. Collaborators include photographer Jacqueline Salmon and writer Gérard Gaillaguet. These artists have not simply responded to assignments from Goedé but have made work with the same impetus, with shared ideas and inspiration in mind. Their contributions have informed Goedé's development of the work (for instance, Gaillaguet's poetry inspired her to include a Greek Chorus), and in the realized opera, these poems and artworks create parallel stories, in a sense, playing out in counterpoint to Goedé's concept.Dancer, vocalist, writer Katie Higham-Kessler, Steve Cohn musician, Joseph Grau musician,visual artist Randy Skidmore, electronic composer Stefan Tiedje, and the other performers have also contributed to the evolution of the work.

    ........epilogue/conclusion w.i.progr. for 2009