New multimedia opera 'The Dybbuk' blends culture, arts, technology - Colorado College

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For Immediate Release

Media contacts:
Jane Turnis
(719) 389-6138
JTurnis@ColoradoCollege.edu

Leslie Weddell
(719) 389-6038
Leslie.Weddell@ColoradoCollege.edu

NOTE TO EDITORS: “Dybbuk Project” photos and video are at http://www.dybbukproject.org; a high-resolution poster image may be downloaded at www.ColoradoCollege.edu/news_events/photos.

                                                    
NEW OPERA ‘THE DYBBUK: BETWEEN TWO WORLDS’
PREMIERES IN U.S., BLENDING CULTURE, ARTS, TECHNOLOGY

Video projections sculpt scenes in opera composed, directed by CC’s Ben-Amots, Lindblade

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Oct. 23, 2008 – Cultures blend and opera meets the digital world in “The Dybbuk Project: Between Two Worlds,” composed by Colorado College Music Professor Ofer Ben-Amots and directed by CC Drama Professor Tom Lindblade. “The Dybbuk” makes its United States premiere at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 30 in the Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center, 825 N. Cascade Ave. Admission is free.

The opera also will be presented at 8 p.m. Nov. 1 and 2 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Mizel Arts & Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., Denver. Tickets for those performances are $36 for adults, and $25 for seniors, students and children; www.ticketturtle.com.

This new 90-minute opera, which made its world premiere in Montreal in January, is a multimedia, cross-cultural spectacle. It features abstract and realistic video and photo projections synched with dramatic and musical action; the 36-voice Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale; evocative music and singing; and a grand drama of love, death, mysticism, humor and tragedy.

“The Dybbuk” captures the story of transcendent love between two ill-fated lovers, their story evoked by singers and musicians who become part of the Kabbalah narrative. But tradition ends there. A specially commissioned design by New York videographer Sheri Wills underscores the opera’s emotion, creating a sense of beauty, time and history. The atmospheric images are played “live” by Wills via a rear-projection screen. The CC production also features two translucent scrims, creating a visual surround for the action. The opera plays with contrasts in other ways as well.

“The subtitle of the play is ‘Between Two Worlds,’ ” Ben-Amots said. “We can identify with these people on stage because we are always between two worlds, whether it be the past and the present, life and death, or our culture and other influences. It impacts all aspects of what we do. This play underlines this struggle between two opposite/contrasting worlds.”

Ben-Amots said the choice of venue, Colorado College’s new interdisciplinary teaching and performing arts building, the Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center, is especially appropriate. “ ‘The Dybbuk’ project is in the spirit of Cornerstone with its cross collaboration” between drama, music and video art, he said. “The Dybbuk” is also cross cultural. It is based on the 1914 play “The Dybbuk,” which Ben-Amots describes as “the most famous Yiddish play of its time.” Ben-Amots adapted the play and composed music for the opera. He updated the play by allowing a woman – the character Leah – to tell the story through her point of view.

Because the play is in Yiddish, the backdrop video, created by New York video artist Sherri Wills, plays a functional role along with its creative one, by displaying subtitles. Ben-Amots describes the text in the video as “another character in the opera.”

Ben-Amots is accustomed to creating cross-cultural work. In 2002, he was commissioned to write incidental music for the play in Israel. The play concerned “dark features” such as exorcism and ghosts, so it borrowed elements from Japanese Noh theater and combined Japanese and Jewish folk music when composing.

Lindblade was chosen to direct the opera because of his understanding of Yiddish and Hebrew, and his knowledge of folk melodies and styles. Lindblade also brought comic relief to the story.

“You will never see anything like it: It has a four-piece ensemble, percussion, Japanese korogu scene changers, and three lead characters,” Lindblade said. “There is some modern pantomime as well, and it all seems to work together. And it has a great score.”

The opera features Yahli Toren as Leah (soprano); Gilad Harel as Hannan (clarinet); Jeremy Wilhelm as rabbi and messenger (baritone); Rebecca Siegel as Korogu 1 and Bryndon Tarafa as Korogu 2. Other performers include Yumi Hwang-Williams, violin; Inbal Megiddo, cello; Susan Grace, piano; Asaf Roth, percussion; the Colorado Springs Children's Chorale; and Wills as digital media designer and videographer.

For information, directions or disability accommodation at the event, members of the public may call (719) 389-6607.

About Colorado College
Colorado College is a nationally prominent, four-year liberal arts college that was founded in Colorado Springs in 1874. The college operates on the innovative Block Plan, in which its 1,985 undergraduate students study one course at a time in intensive 3½-week blocks. The college also offers a master of arts in teaching degree. For more information, visit www.ColoradoCollege.edu <http://www.ColoradoCollege.edu>.