OUROBOROS Trilogy by Cerise Jacobs to Premiere in Boston This Fall
21C Media Group is delighted to announce that it now represents creator and librettist Cerise Jacobs, a project developer of irrepressible enthusiasm and vision who stands at the very center of each development process, initiating the concept, writing the text, and choosing the composer solely according to the stylistic demands of her libretto.
Her first opera, Madame White Snake, co-commissioned by Opera Boston and the Beijing Music Festival and composed by celebrated synthesizer of Chinese and Western idioms Zhou Long, won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for music. Praised by Opera News for its "real lyricism" and "simple and clean" language, the "elegant English text" of her libretto was cited as a major factor in the opera's outstanding success.
Madame White Snake is one of three pieces in a trilogy Jacobs calls Ouroboros; the other two are Gilgamesh and Naga, composed by interdisciplinary impresario Paola Prestini and Dinosaur Annex Music Ensemble co-founder Scott Wheeler, respectively. Though each piece can stand on its own, together the three operas embody the ancient Greek symbol of a serpent eating its tail that gives the trilogy its title.
The framework Jacobs gave to Madame White Snake is a cycle of seasons; similarly, the entire trilogy illustrates the eternal wheel of life, death and rebirth that underpins the beloved Chinese myth that was her source, as well as a catalyst for her creative development dating back to her childhood. Reflecting that cyclical principle, the ambitious world premiere of the trilogy will consist of three complete performances, each using a different opera as its starting point.
With stage direction and production design by multi-media enthusiast and visual artist Michael Counts, and creative production by Beth Morrison Projects, these will be presented byArtsEmerson in Boston later this year (Sep 10-17) and will be recorded for release on Prestini's VIA label.Inspired by her late husband, Charles, who passed away shortly after the world premiere of Madame White Snake at Opera Boston in 2010, Jacobs left a career as a trial lawyer to devote her time and abundant energy to creative work, a story she details in a 2013 TED talk which can be seen below.
Including the Ouroboros trilogy, Jacobs has seven new operas scheduled for production over the next five years, all based, as is her practice, on her own original stories. The subjects range from video games to a new closing chapter for the Book of Revelation, with composers to include Trinity Wall Street's multi-faceted Director of Music and the Arts Julian Wachner, as well as Dan Visconti, the composer of Opera Philadelphia's recent Warhol-inspired ANDY: A Popera. As Jacobs says:
"We're only 15 years into this new century, yet certain phenomena have begun to define our times. The smartphone, social media, video games, private space travel, terrorism, Islamism, mass displacement ... The stories I tell explore these phenomena using two great tools: myth and technology. ... I am hopeful that writing about what matters desperately, passionately NOW, through a common mythological idiom, will make the new operas we create speak to new audiences. Technology, an ingenious man-made force our children think is part of Nature, can bring the digital generation's aesthetic to a four-hundred-year-old form of music-theater and perhaps demonstrate to them that opera can be really cool."
Jacobs's passionate commitment to engaging with younger audiences has also led her to produce a tuneful Broadway-style adaptation of the White Snake tale for children calledWhen the White Snake Cries. With music by Adam Brooks, and addressing issues of racism, peer pressure, tolerance, and love, the piece will have eight performances in August at the Boston Children's Museum.
Cerise Jacobs: Upcoming performances:
When the White Snake Cries
Boston Children's Museum
Ouroboros trilogy (world premiere)
Cutler Majestic Theater
Presented by ArtsEmerson
Michael Counts, director and production designer
Lan Shui, Julian Wachner and Carolyn Kuan, conductors
Creative Production by Beth Morrison Projects
Sep 10: Naga, Madame White Snake, Gilgamesh
Sep 13: Madame White Snake
Sep 14: Gilgamesh
Sep 15: Naga
Sep 17: Gilgamesh, Naga, Madame White Snake
Photo Credit: James Matthew Daniel