STL Opera Collective presents TESLA'S PIGEON and TO HELL AND BACK, 9/8 & Today
STL Opera Collective is thrilled to present the St. Louis premiere of Tesla's Pigeon by Melissa Dunphy and To Hell and Back by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer on September 8 & 9, 2017 at 7:30pm at the Kranzberg Arts Center Studio Theater, 501 N Grand Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63103. Tickets are $18 and are available at 314-545-1111 or at www.metrotix.com.
Composed in 2010, Dunphy's Tesla's Pigeon tells the story of Serbian-American scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla's final moments with his closest companion, a white dove that visited him every day at his hotel room at the Hotel New Yorker. In the 1920's to 40's, Tesla lived out his twilight years having metaphorically wrecked himself on Manhattan Island, bankrupted and broken by a public relations war with Thomas Edison. A staunch believer in the connection between his genius and sexual abstinence, Tesla shunned women, choosing instead to feed and care for street pigeons. In moments of delirium, Tesla believed this pigeon to have mystical knowledge and the ability to communicate with him, and declared to friends that he was in love with her. One night, the bird flew into Tesla's room close to death, and according to Tesla, a light came from her eyes more intense than that of the most powerful lamps in his laboratory before she died in his arms. Tesla said that at that same moment, he knew his life's work was finished.
Tesla's Pigeon is sung from the dove's perspective in these final moments, and explores parallels between the relationship between Tesla and his pigeon, and Prospero and Ariel in Shakespeare's The Tempest, with text adapted from Ariel's songs, Goethe's Faust, the poetry of George Sylvester Viereck, Serbian traditional song and poetry, and personal letters to Tesla.
Tesla's Pigeon, was recognized with a Spirit of Tesla award by the Tesla Science Foundation, and was the First Place Winner of the 2012 National Association of Teachers of Singing Art Song Composition Award.
This new staged production of Dunphy's song cycle, Tesla Pigeon, stars Emily Truckenbrod as The Pigeon and Steve Callahan in the silent role of Nikola Tesla.
Paired with Tesla's Pigeon is Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer's lyric drama, To Hell and Back which had its premiere performance in 2006. Based on the Greco-Roman myth of Persephone, librettist Gene Scheer formulated a modern tale of two women: Stephanie and Anne. This is a story of gods and mortals - the ones within each of us. Stephanie (Persephone) is a young woman who has survived a violently abusive marriage to Peter (Pluto) thanks to a heroic act by Anne (Cyane). The story unfolds as Stephanie calls Anne. She has written her story down as part of her rehab in Arizona, and calls to see if Anne has received a copy. Anne is her hero, but is still in Appalachia living with the fact that it was her own son, Peter, who married Stephanie and nearly beat her to death; trying hard to believe it was something other than what it was; struggling to create a reality where she can live and not be torn apart by anguish.
To Hell and Back stars soprano Hana Abrams as Stephanie and contralto Stephanie Ruggles as Anne.
"Tesla's Pigeon and To Hell and Back exemplifies the maIn Focus of STL Opera Collective; presenting contemporary 21st Century chamber operas with compelling stories that need to be told. More than being beautifully composed, these pieces together explore the need for connection to another being and many facets of love: seemingly strange love, nurturing love, lost love, violent love, tough love, and self love. It's also very exciting to have all local artists part of the cast and creative team; an aspect that is very important to us," says Artistic Director, Kurtis Shoemake.
Artistic Director, Kurtis Shoemake designs and stage directs the production and Nancy Mayo serves as Collaborative Pianist.
More information can be found at: www.stloperacollective.org