Why are women in opera so often depicted as prostitutes, sacrificial victims, or both? Women reframe their own operatic portrayal in this double bill that pairs the most radical monodrama of the last century with one by this century’s most exciting new voices. Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire (1912) changed music forever when he created 21 surreal dreamscapes for a solitary, enigmatic female to traverse. Exploring a threshold space between singing and speaking, Schoenberg created a vocal character somewhere between cabaret and expressionism, demanding each performer to make the role uniquely her own. 100 years later, Kate Soper’s Voices from the Killing Jar (2012) takes an intrepid soloist through a constantly shifting sonic environment and a kaleidoscopic vocal journey. Soper’s protagonist brings to life 8 famous women in world literature -- from Don Giovanni to Great Gatsby, from Shakespeare to Haruki Murakami -- to unravel men’s depictions of women through the centuries.
Each work is a tour de force for vocalists who think far outside operatic conventions, and LBO is proud to feature two local singers to bring these works to life. Peabody Southwell, an LBO favorite and “one of the most fearless, versatile young singing actresses on the stage today” (Musical America), will bring Pierrot to life. Killing Jar will be performed by Laurel Irene, a performer Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times praised as “downright superhuman, giving one of the most astonishing performances, vocally and interpretively, I have ever encountered.”
The works are lead by a trio of exceptional local artists that bring fresh perspectives to opera: Pierrot Lunaire is staged and choreographed by Danielle Agami, the founder of the acclaimed Ate9 Dance Company. She received the 2018 Virginia B. Toulmin Fellowship for Women Leaders in Dance, the 2016 Princess Grace Award for Choreography, and was named Dance Magazine’s Top 25 to Watch in 2015. Killing Jar is staged by Zoe Aja Moore, a theater director whose work has been seen at the Prototype Festival, the Williamstown Theater Festival, REDCAT, and National Sawdust. Jenny Wong, the Associate Artistic Director of LA Master Chorale and a co-conductor of The Industry’s Sweet Land, conducts both pieces.