Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to disclose many details about Angel's Bone, Du Yun's stunning new fantasy about human trafficking, performed at Trinity Wall Street this past week as part of the PROTOTYPE Festival. But, I will say this: It was, by a long measure, the most harrowing experience I've ever had inside a church—or anywhere, for that matter. Keep your eyes peeled for a proper production here in the not-too-distant future.
Meanwhile over at Roulette, Jonathan Berger's Visitations—with text by Dan O'Brien—consisted of two one-act operas dealing with the phenomenon of auditory hallucinations. The first, Theotokia, took us inside the head of a Shaker man (Leon) who experiences a religious hallucination and quickly descends into a state of mental instability. Melissa Hughes was a powerful presence in the central role of Leon's mother, doubling as the Shaker leader Mother Anne. Through Leon's schizophrenia, she also portrayed a Yeti mother, whose scatalogical tirade left me a bit bewildered.
The War Reporter, which followed intermission, was far more accessible and engaging. It depicted the true story of combat journalist Paul Watson, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for his photograph of the corpse of an American soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu. After winning the Pulitzer, he experiences overpowering feelings of guilt and remorse, haunted by the ghost of the dead soldier as Watson struggles to get on with his life. Steven Wilson sang the role of Watson with deep, penetrating emotion, while bass Craig Phillips was dark and menacing as the ghost of Staff Sgt. William David Cleveland. Berger's music succeeded in driving the story with a mix of spiky dissonance and heartfelt lyricism.
More pics on the photo page.