Photos and video were taken during out October 6th and 7th performance at Highways Performance Space. All photographs were taken by Katie Stenberg. All Video was taken by Dalton Blanco.
Unseal Unseam is a multimedia modernization of Bela Bartok's opera, "Bluebeard’s Castle" from the perspective of his wife, Judith. In this electroacoustic, immersive performance, we combine traditional operatic singing with extended vocal techniques accompanied by modular synth, amplified orchestral instruments, and textures of electronic noise made through amplified props onstage.
The opera is staged to unveil what is seen behind Bluebeard’s locked doors. In seven scenes Judith analyzes memories of both passion and trauma, a projection of the duality of an abusive relationship that fosters her psychological purgatory. The dead wives which traditionally appear at the penultimate 7th door, follow Judith throughout the opera like haunting pieces of a pattern. What is notably different in this updated production is the complete absence of Bluebeard. He is only seen through affect and the reverberations of his inflictions. Electronic amplification is used as a dramaturgical tool to represent the intensity of memories of suffering and pain and also moments of healing and ascension. The scenery begins as a dark, claustrophobic labyrinth and overtime expands into a cathedral of light. The composition parallels this journey, beginning with a harshness that slowly resolves itself as Judith heals. At moments, the visceral proximity of a bel canto voice in such an intimate space is both “hair-raising or paralyzing beautiful.” (Alicia Byer of New Classic LA)
With the ignition of an empowered and complex agency, we release Judith from the authorship of a male composer. In the end, she, alongside the wives, is able to triumph.
It is a work which believes that the visibility and recognition of survivors of abusive situations are vital restorative powers. Unseal Unseam is an opera with a dedicated message of hope rather than a morality play.
"When in doubt freak 'em out- do whatever the fuck you want to do."