The Furies: An Opera for Laptop Orchestra (premiere of Act III)
The Latest Update
The Furies: A Laptopera – Video of Act III is LIVE!
We are happy to share the culmination of our work last spring on Act III of The Furies: A Laptopera!
The Furies: A Laptopera is a retelling of the Greek tragedy Electra. Blending a number of versions of the Electra story including works by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Jean Paul Sartre, this retelling explores central questions regarding how communities escape from cycles of violence, the role of guilt and shame in community identity, personal responsibility, how justice interfaces with cycles of violence, and redemption. The artistic medium of the laptop orchestra both serves to recast the traditional instrumental role in a new kind of operatic medium (the “laptopera”) that reimagines the potential of instrument building to support dramatic elements and character relationships—while simultaneously positing critical questions about technology in our lives presently, both in its promise to help us flourish and in its perils to perpetuate and amplify the existing cycles of violence in our world today.
If you would like to see how this project is progressing, please follow us. We will continue to post about performances of Act I December 7 and 8, 2019 as well as the full premiere of the entire opera in March 2020.
The Furies is a multimedia opera scored for live voices and laptop orchestra. Inspired by Jean-Paul Sartre’s play, Les Mouches, it is a reworking of the Electra story that highlights questions of personal responsibility, morality, the interplay between justice and love, and what happens if we allow our community to be bound together by shame. This spring, composer and librettist Anne Hege (long-time laptop orchestra composer and accomplished electronic instrument designer) will collaborate with the Stanford Laptop Orchestra (SLOrk) to present Act III of The Furies at Stanford University in Bing Hall on June 8th, 2019 and a work-in-progress showing on May 2nd, 2019 in the CCRMA performance space.
The Furies explores the laptop orchestra as an artistic medium that weaves together sound, movement, and drama. Utilizing live voices, vocal processing, sampled and synthesized sound, spatialization, varying kinds of controllers, machine learning, and choreography, this musical multimedia work will explore how our most powerful technological tools can help us to examine the weight of shame and regret, the blindness of anger and revenge, and the power of choice and love.
Beginning April 3rd, weekly rehearsals with the composer, director, and laptop orchestra members at Stanford University will allow for a creative collaborative process to develop the use of the laptop orchestra in Act III and prepare the ensemble for performance. Bi-monthly rehearsals with lead vocalists Sidney Chen (Zeus), Shauna Fallihee (Electra) and Anne Hege (Orestia) will give sufficient time to bring the work together. Under the direction of laptop orchestra pioneer Ge Wang, the premiere of Act III will provide a starting point to produce the entire opera in 2020, as the first opera for laptop orchestra.
The collaborative team of Ge Wang, Anne Hege, Sidney Chen, and Shauna Fallihee brings together a strong ensemble of new music, multimedia, and technology specialists. Associate Professor Ge Wang is the founder and director of SLOrk and an avid proponent of exploring how technology supports our humanity. With similar interests, Hege has extensive experience composing for laptop orchestra (2006-2012 as a member of the Princeton Laptop Orchestra and 2012-present as a member of Sideband laptop ensemble), as well as her experience composing for voice, electronics, and live dance (Carrie Ahern Dance Company Composer 2009-2014, member of New Prosthetics music/video duo, and commissioned choral composer). Vocalists Sidney Chen (Meredith Monk Ensemble member and co-founder of M6) and Shauna Fallihee (Volti member) have extensive experience working with electronics and new music. They are skilled vocalists who specialize in choreographed movement. Currently, the composer is working closely with the soloists to finalize vocal parts to bring out the best in their voices and also design instruments that will respond musically to their movements.
The funding of this project will provide a stipend for each vocalist as well as half the composer’s commissioning fee. By funding the premiere of Act III, New Music USA will also simultaneously be a part of the development and creation of the full opera for public performance in 2020.
*cue to 12:21
I began with the question, if laptop orchestras were used in ritual practice, what would that ritual be? Inspired by Maya Deren’s description of Haitian Voudoun practices, I began to imagine what the traditional practices Deren describes might look like accompanied by laptop orchestra. Through this exploration, From the Waters was created. Starting at 12:21 highlights the rope instrument. I have continued to extend The Rope and will use a version of this instrument in The Furies.
Commissioned by the Princeton Laptop Orchestra.
Inspired by the classic science-fiction short story “Twilight” by John W. Campbell published in 1934, this piece ruminates not of the dawn, ascension, nor triumph of the human race, but of one possible demise set seven million years in the future. This end is not one of annihilation through war, nor decimation from famine or disease, but a golden decrescendo of defeat brought on by the gradual, peaceful, but unstoppable usurping of technology and machines — and the loss of man’s curiosity and sense of wonder.
This video highlights the work of Shauna Fallihee and Sidney Chen as soloists and members of Volti. Cued to Shauna’s opening solo, this video also displays her movement ability. As members of the exceptional San Francisco choral group, Volti, led by Artistic Director Robert Geary, they worked to breathe life, music, and movement into the Greek myth of Pandora with “Pandora’s Gift”, the world premiere of Mark Winges’ choral performance art piece at Z Space in San Francisco, California.
Start and End Dates
04/03/2019 — 06/08/2019
Palo Alto, California