Dark Exhalation Opera

Dark Exhalation

Date(s) - Fri. Oct. 20, 2023
7:30 pm


Dark Exhalation is a new chamber opera for four vocalists and amplified ensemble (flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, double bass, percussion) that incorporates techniques from cinematic sound design to transform everyday sounds into dynamic, highly textured musical compositions.

This sci-fi ghost story approaches the opioid epidemic in a poetic, metaphorical way to consider addiction in a new light. The events of the opera play out against the backdrop of a massive solar storm: a billion ton cloud of charged particles and plasma released by the Sun that can wreak havoc on satellites, communication systems, and power grids. Each of the characters confront the storm in their own way.

This production is supported in part by the Somerville Arts Council.

The development of Dark Exhalation received funding from
OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Women Composers: Discovery Grants program, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.

To follow the project as it unfolds, visit the project page. This project has also been made possible, in part, by the Brown Arts Initiative.

Conductor – Nicole Parks

Lavinia (mezzo-soprano) – Britt Brown
Wendell (lyric baritone) – Tyler Bouque
Helen (coloratura soprano) – Tookah Sapper
Ori (flute + speaking role) – Carlos Aguilar

Clarinets – David Angelo
Percussion – Matt Sharrock
Violin – Myra Hinrichs
Viola – Carrie Frey
Cello – Helen Newby
Double Bass – Kevin Sullivan

List of audio / video excerpts:
– Bruised Plum – Act 1, Scene 1 (pg. 3)
– Satellite Fell – Act 1, Scene 3 (pg. 17)
– Scarlet Tanager – Act 1, Scene 7 (pg. 66)
– Dried Blood – Act 1, Scene 8 (pg. 72)
– Audio Excerpt: Got Bored – Act 1, Scene 8 (pg. 78)
– The Neck Bones of the Air – Act 1, Scene 11 (pg. 98)
– Frozen Piss – Act 2, Scene 1 (pg. 105)

At its heart, Dark Exhalation explores the generative possibilities of fragility by carefully examining that which is difficult—or even impossible—to say, focusing on: the lost time of addiction, irruptive nature of trauma, and the loss for words that accompanies deep grief. In this work, music becomes a method by which characters reframe their situations and ultimately reform themselves. Stutter is transformed into a compositional structure, flashbacks illuminate haunting memories, and sampling techniques—featuring quotations ranging from the 16th- to the 20th-century—serve both to illustrate the internal psychology of each character and as material that can be shared, worked over, and transformed. The operatic medium provides the perfect venue for this project because its inherently time-based: in the sense of unfolding in time, but also in the sense of musical time, meter, rhythm, reference, and repetition. A story about the unspeakable, must be told through more than words alone.

Learn more.

Dark Exhalation Opera

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