February 27, 2008 - Montalvo Arts Center - Lesley Dill’s new opera, Divide Light
February 27, 2008

Lesley Dill’s new opera, Divide Light

Image from Divide Light by Lesley Dill.

A New Opera

World Premiere! Wed, August 13, 2008

Saratoga, Calif.


Montalvo Arts Center presents the innovative new opera Divide Light, a world premiere commission by New York-based visual and performance artist Lesley Dill, with music by composer Richard Marriott, and additional music by Tom Morgan, Aug. 13 at Montalvo’s Garden Theater. Commissioned and produced by Montalvo Arts Center, Dill redirects the classic form of opera using Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) to celebrate and investigate American Transcendentalism, a school of thought particularly prevalent in mid-19th century New England. By incorporating all of Dickinson’s 1,775 poems, Divide Light goes beyond rational reason into the world of obsessive informational insanity, which refers not only to the aficionados across the country holding yearly marathon readings of the complete body of Dickinson’s poems, but also to the overflow of information we now have at our fingertips made possible by the Internet and amazing new technologies. Divide Light parallels this global process by musically and visually translating the language of a 19th century philosophical movement into a representation of current forms of linguistic availability.

Dill has made Divide Light into a spare and closely developed theatrical presentation, layered with a haunting visual element which features large projections on a back screen and multiple scrims. The images are a combination of Dill’s stark, edgy and evocative black-and-white photographs and projected text from Dickinson’s poetry. Poems stream, scroll, flash, swirl, twirl, pop out, edge in, seep out, fade in, fall down, and rise up on the screen and scrims. The performers sing Dickinson’s words and wear them scrawled across their costumes. Poems appear in unusual places throughout the opera, interacting with the audience in unexpected ways.

Divide Light is a very rare, special theatrical presentation – never before has there been an opera that includes a string quartet and choir, as well as standard operatic voices, plus visual elements,” says Dill. “One of our goals for Divide Light is to redefine what opera is and with the inclusion of so many different voices and musicians, we are certainly achieving that goal. Montalvo Arts Center’s quest for innovative artists and thinkers makes it the perfect venue for Divide Light and we are pleased to collaborate with this organization.”

Montalvo’s Executive Director Robert Sain says, “This compelling project signals our commitment to supporting new work and our mission to investigate contemporary concerns through art.”

Incubated in the heart of Silicon Valley at Montalvo’s Sally and Don Lucas Artist Programs residency as an interdisciplinary collaboration between Dill, a visual artist, and Colorado-based composer and conductor Tom Morgan, Divide Light has expanded to include additional creative collaborators. Philadelphia-based stage director Eleanor Holdridge is on board, and the project is under the musical direction of Daniel Hughes, who also serves as director of The Choral Project, San Jose.

Divide Light features a number of San Francisco Bay Area-based organizations, including The Choral Project, whose mission is to connect to one another through choral theater, education and musical excellence, and San Francisco-based Del Sol String Quartet, recognized for its ability to showcase living composers in relevant, responsive and deeply passionate performances.

Divide Light premieres at Montalvo’s Garden Theater on Aug. 13. Tickets are available now. Please call Montalvo’s Box Office at 408-961-5858 or www.montavloarts.org . Tickets also are available at www.ticketmaster.com .

Divide Light was generously funded by:
• The Rockefeller Foundation, MAP Fund
• William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
• David and Lucile Packard Foundation
• National Endowment for the Arts

Montalvo Arts Center

Montalvo Arts Center
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