An Opera by Lisa Bielawa
Film Producer, Director, and Production Design: Charles Otte
Creative Producer, Composer: Lisa Bielawa
Libretto: Erik Ehn
Rowen Sabala, soprano
Emma MacKenzie, soprano
Greg Purnhagen, baritone
Kirsten Sollek, contralto
Ryan Glover, tenor
American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME)
VIREO LIVE is a groundbreaking hybrid film-opera experience based on Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch's Accuser, an award-winning made-for-TV-and-online opera by Lisa Bielawa, which premiered in 12 episodes on public television station KCET in Los Angeles. A production of Grand Central Art Center, KCET, and Single Cel, Vireo follows the path of a visionary teenage girl, "Vireo," played by soprano Rowen Sabala, who exists in three centuries, as various communities of men (priests, doctors, and artists) attempt to interpret her.
This new, 90-minute production will incorporate video projection of the film with live performance. With projected backdrops, costumes, and a small ensemble of five singers, string quartet, keyboard, and percussion, VIREO LIVE provides the audience with a unique opera experience combining the intense immediacy of live performance in dialogue with the fantasy created on screen. A workshop production will take place in Fall 2020 as part of the new Philip Glass Institute at The New School in New York City, of which Lisa Bielawa is the inaugural Composer-in-Residence.
The award-winning work has been described as "poetic and fantastical, visually stunning and relentlessly abstract ...” by the San Francisco Classical Voice. Vireo is the winner of the 2015 ASCAP Foundation Deeps Taylor/Virgil Thomson Multimedia Award, and a prestigious MAP Fund Grant. Lisa Bielawa and Charles Otte were both nominated for Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards in 2018.
Photo by Remsen Allard
Winner of the 2015 ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Multimedia Award
Nominated for two Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards
"[Vireo] is poetic and fantastical, visually stunning and relentlessly abstract ...” — SAN FRANCISCO CLASSICAL VOICE
"Bielawa’s new opera ... is unlike any you have seen before, in content and in form." — LOS ANGELES TIMES
"a moody, haunting and wonderfully varied meditation on the perceptions of witchcraft and female power through the ages" — SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE