A chilling interpretation of the legend “Beauty and the Beast,” Hannah Lash’s new 40 minute chamber opera titled “Blood Rose” explores concepts of violation, loss, revenge, and identity. Lash’s stark libretto stands out in a visceral and disturbing setting for alto (Kirsten Sollek), countertenor (Eric Brenner), and string quartet (the JACK Quartet).
“Blood Rose” renders the character of Beast as the victim of defilement, evidenced by his ravaged garden. It is dawn; he has just discovered the devastation in his garden. Beauty enters: a mysteriously pure woman who sings seductively. Beast is eager to make her suffer to alleviate his own sense of rage. her blood will water his broken flowers to make them bloom again.
She bleeds, but the only flowers that are revived are those with ugly meanings: rage, revenge, mistrust. Their terror builds; Beauty’s life is draining and Beast’s fevered anger has not abated. They grow closer in their mutual suffering, desperate for hope. But the flower of hope cannot be revived. Not with Blood. Beauty and Beast become increasingly enmeshed in one another’s identities as the opera draws to its heartbreaking conclusion.
THE LOADING DOCK PROJECT: “VIOLATIONS”
“VIOLATIONS” is a piece that will be performed in any inner-city area, using a loading dock as a stage. it will be scored for singer, percussion, and live electronics. The text for this 45-50 minute piece will be a non-linear compilation of personal stories–stories from people who have committed crime and stories from people who have been the victims of crime.
As the piece progresses, these stories mingle and deepen. There is anger on both sides. Basic human rights have been violated. Revenge and fear become motivators. All are victims, making victims of one another.
The musical texture thickens; words are layered upon words and sounds upon sounds in waves of increasing strength. Images are projected onto the wall of the loading dock: images that range from gritty news-footage of inner-city crimes, to projections of any type of file stored on a laptop representing some important part of a persons life. Personal photographs, evidence–lost things.
Harmonic, melodic, and contrapuntal material reach a point of screaming intensity–perspectives collide, stories are elided and melodies are brutally slashed. When no more sound or layering of sound seems possible, everything stops except the electronic sounds, suddenly calm: an otherworldly lullaby, seeking solace, looking within.
Performing the piece on a loading dock holds significance because the shape of a loading dock parodies a stage. But its industrial capacity, and the fact that it is in the back of a building where danger potentially lurks and where anyone can go, throws the idea of a stage deeply askew.
The commission for this piece is gathered from small personal donations. Fundraising has been, and will continue to be done, in an entirely grass-roots spirit, via Kickstarter, Facebook, Twitter, newspaper articles, word of mouth. To view the blog and contribute to this commission, please click this link: The Loading Dock Project
The process of putting together the text will involve interviewing people and gathering their stories. These stories will come from many, many people–from those in prisons, to those in shelters, to those in offices and apartments and houses. Nothing is inviolate: no one is blameless.
Performances of the piece will be entirely free and open to the public; all that is needed is a loading dock large enough to allow the public to gather.