The New England Premiere Of TRIPTYCH - On The Work Of Robert Mapplethorpe

ArtsEmerson in association with the Celebrity Series of Boston are thrilled to presentTriptych (Eyes of One on Another), a new performance piece combining music, poetry and photography that seeks to capture the essence of photographer and visual artist Robert Mapplethorpe's influential body of work. Together, composer Bryce Dessner (guitarist for the universally celebrated band, The National), librettist Korde Arrington Tuttle, director Kaneza Schaal, designer Carlos Soto and music director Brad Wells in collaboration with Grammy-nominated vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth and featuring poetry by Tuttle, Essex Hemphill and Patti Smith explore the ways Mapplethorpe's works question how we look at, touch, feel, hurt and love one another.

Produced by ArKtype / Thomas O. Kriegsmann,Triptychis ArtsEmerson's second offering in its 10thAnniversary Season (2019/20) andruns for five performances only, October 30 November 3, 2019, at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre. Tickets can be purchased as part of an ArtsEmerson season package starting May 20, 2019 at, by phone at 617.824.8400 or at the box office. Tickets can also be purchased as part of a Celebrity Series season subscription starting April 10,2019. Single tickets start at $25 and will go on sale at a later date.

We are honored to be part of the circle of US presenters commissioning these extraordinary collaborators, says David Dower, Artistic Director of ArtsEmerson. They have made a gorgeous, monumental work that is right on time for the culture, and we are proud to host its Boston performances. Mapplethorpe's work triggered a ferocious, deafening backlash when these images were first exhibited, and this ensemble of artists has created a space for us to experience them anew, reflect across the distance of decades, and contemplate the facets of this story that were swamped by the original vitriol. The images retain their power to confront us with ourselves, yet these collaborators have shifted the gaze in important ways to reach into different corners of our fascination and discomfort with the photos and the photographer. I look forward to the conversations when the piece arrives in Boston.

Amy Lam, Artistic Programmer of the Celebrity Series of Boston, says, "Celebrity Series is proud to be a co-commissioner of Triptych and to support Roomful of Teeth and Bryce Dessner in their undertaking of this significant theatrical production. We first presented Roomful of Teeth in our inaugural year of Stave Sessions and welcomed them back last season to the delight of our audiences. We're excited to be a part of this powerful work and to collaborate with ArtsEmerson at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre this fall."

AboutTriptych (Eyes of One on Another)

Robert Mapplethorpe's legendary life and work have inspired the birth of Triptych (Eyes of One On Another), a contemporary, convention-bending operatic experience. Heavily informed by Mapplethorpe's photography, this soaring oratorio also engages the work of Essex Hemphill, a Poet and Activist working at the forefront of Black, Gay Liberation throughout the 1980s and 90s and poet and muse Patti Smith. Never before placed at the center of a theatrical endeavor, emotionally and aesthetically, Triptychexamines Mapplethorpe's photography and archival practice with care and incision via a deftly curated survey of the artist's body of work.

Composer Bryce Dessner, Librettist Korde Arrington Tuttle, Director Kaneza Schaal, and vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth joined to forces to dream-up this anti-biopic, theatrical piece about photographs.

Librettist Korde Arrington Tuttle takes inspiration from Mapplethorpe's notorious XYZ Portfolio, and structures the piece in three parts, engaging the work of Essex Hemphill and Patti Smith.

Triptychwas written for 10 singers (eight members of Roomful of Teeth, soprano Alicia Hall Moran, and tenor Isaiah Robinson), and is scored for a string trio, double percussion, piano, harmonium, clarinet, and horn. The performance features monumental projections of Mapplethorpe's photographs exhibited to the standards of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.

As a teenager, I was told by the authorities that I was not allowed to look at Mapplethorpe's photographs and that these tremendous works of art were not art at all, but pornography, says Bryce Dessner. This censorship made a significant impact on my life at the time and on my decision to pursue art and music as a career. Thirty years later, I have decided to respond in my own way and to look at these pictures again myself, and through the eyes of my wonderful collaborators, the librettist Korde Arrington Tuttle, Director Kaneza Schaal, and ArKtype. This project has challenged me more than any work to date and I am honored to share this journey with this ensemble and our dear partners at ArtsEmerson and Celebrity Series of Boston and their inspiring audiences.

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