ABOUT the OPERA
A ZOOM room. Halloween, 2020. Minutes before midnight.
Three students who first met during a group project on witchcraft and the occult during the Fall semester at Baldwin Wallace have decided to host a virtual séance at midnight on Halloween.
Not wanting to forget when it was go time, Zelda pressed record on the Zoom session when she signed on intending to edit the intro and outro in post after the session. When things went off the rails and the Zoom meeting abruptly terminated, the recording populated to the Zoom cloud from where it was retrieved and gained an underground cult following. Tune in, if you dare!
ZELDA- in college studying Neuro Science. She’s a producer/stage manager at heart. She’s focused, smart, type A, usually tired, usually stressed. She is in her dorm room.
PJ- in college studying Musical Theatre. She longs for the limelight. She has an overblown public persona and an obsession with social media. She’s always messing with her phone. (Where is she?)
CAMPBELL- in college studying psychology. She’s a free spirit, a risk taker, a bit obsessive and curious to a fault.
ZELDA is in her dorm room. She is a total gear-head. She has multiple windows open on multiple computers. She is interfacing with several people who are piling up in the séance Zoom room awaiting the stroke of midnight.
PJ is in their dorm room. She is checking her vibe and her lighting in the camera of her phone.
CAMPBELL suddenly connects via video. She is inside a tent in an undisclosed (for now) location.
COMPOSER & LIBRETTIST
Praised as “strikingly original” (NY Times) and “new voice from whom we will surely be hearing more” (LA Times), Kamala Sankaram writes highly theatrical music that defies categorization. Recent commissions include the Glimmerglass Festival, Washington National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Shakespeare Theatre Company, and Opera on Tap, among others. Awards, grants and residencies include: Jonathan Larson Award, NEA ArtWorks, MAP Fund, Opera America, NY IT Award for Outstanding Production of a Musical, the Civilians, HERE, the MacDowell Colony, and the Watermill Center. Known for her work with emerging technologies, her recent genre-defying hit Looking at You (with collaborators Rob Handel and Kristin Marting) featured live data mining of the audience and a chorus of 25 singing tablet computers. Sankaram, Handel, and Marting also created all decicions will be made by consensus, a short absurdist opera performed live over Zoom and featured on NBC and the BBC3. With librettist Jerre Dye and Opera on Tap, she created The Parksville Murders, the world’s first virtual reality opera (Samsung VR, Jaunt VR, Kennedy Center Reach Festival, “Best Virtual Reality Video” NY Independent Film Festival, Future of Storytelling, Salem Horror Festival and the Topanga Film Festival.)
Also a performer (hailed as "an impassioned soprano with blazing high notes" (Wall Street Journal)), Kamala moves freely between the worlds of experimental music, creative music, and contemporary opera. Kamala recently sang the role of Gwen St. Clair in the revival of Meredith Monk’s ATLAS with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. A frequent collaborator with Anthony Braxton, she has premiered his operas Trillium E and Trillium J, as well as appearing on his 12-hour recording GTM (Syntax) 2017. Other notable collaborations include The Wooster Group’s LA DIDONE (Kaaitheater, Brussels, Edinburgh International Festival, Rotterdam Schouberg, Grand Théâtre de la Ville, Luxembourg, St. Anne’s Warehouse, NY, REDCAT, Los Angeles), the PROTOTYPE Festival’s THUMBPRINT (Baruch Performing Arts, NY, REDCAT, Los Angeles), and appearances with John Zorn, the Philip Glass Ensemble, and Petr Kotik, among others. Kamala is the leader of Bombay Rickey, an operatic Bollywood surf ensemble whose accolades include two awards for Best Eclectic Album from the Independent Music Awards, the 2018 Mid-Atlantic touring grant, and appearances on WFMU and NPR. Bombay Rickey’s opera-cabaret on the life of Yma Sumac premiered in the 2016 PROTOTYPE Festival and was presented in London at Tête-à-Tête Opera’s Cubitt Sessions.
Dr. Sankaram holds a PhD from the New School and is currently a member of the composition faculty at SUNY Purchase. www.kamalasankaram.com
Jerre Dye is a Chicago-based librettist and playwright. He is the recipient of the Award for Dramatic Literature from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Current opera commissions include: an upcoming commission for Opera Philadelphia with composer Jennifer Higdon ; Taking Up Serpents for Washington National Opera with composer Kamala Sankaram; The Falling and The Rising for the U.S. Army Field Band Chorus, Seattle Opera, Arizona Opera, San Diego Opera, Texas Christian University, and Opera M phis with composer Zachary Redler; Chautauqua Stories for Chautauqua Opera; BY/IN for Opera M phis with composers Kamala Sankaram, Sam Shoup, Zach Redler, and Robert G. Patterson; and The Parksville Murders, a filmed, episodic, virtual reality opera for Opera On Tap/New York with composer Kamala Sankaram. In 2014, Dye completed the libretto for Ghosts of Crosstown, a new short opera cycle in collaboration with Opera Memphis; Movin Up in the World with composer Zachary Redler (subsequent performances at the National Civil Rights Museum and Missouri State University); Abandoned with composer Kamran Ince (featured at the Opera America Annual Conference in San Francisco as part of the New Works Sampler 2014); Ivonne with composer Nathaniel Stookey (featured at the Opera America Annual Conference in D.C. as part of the New Works Sampler 2015); and Mitch and the Moon with composer Jack Perla. Dye play, Cicada, had its Chicago premiere in 2014 with Route 66 Theatre Company while Distance, premiered in 2016 with Strawdog Theatre Company; both works were Jeff nominated. Other works for the stage include: Short/Stories, Threads, The New Adventures of Hansel and Gretel, Wild Swans, and Live Studio Audience. His adaptation of Stravinsky A Soldier Tale with Iris Orchestra was praised by the San Francisco Classical Voice for music that harnesses considerable expressive power.