9/8 & 9/9: STL Opera Collective presents "Tesla's Pigeon" & "To Hell and Back"
$18 General Admission
September 8-9, 2017
$18 General Admission
STL Opera Collective presents "Tesla's Pigeon" by Melissa Dunphy and "To Hell and Back" by Jake Heggie & Gene Scheer
In the 1920's to 40's, Serbian-American scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla lived out his twilight years having metaphorically wrecked himself on Manhattan Island, bankrupted and broken by a public relations war with Thomas Edison. A staunch believer in the connection between his genius and sexual abstinence, Tesla shunned women, choosing instead to feed and care for street pigeons in his hotel room at the New Yorker. His closest friend was a white dove that visited him every day at his hotel room window. In moments of delirium, Tesla believed this pigeon to have mystical knowledge and the ability to communicate with him, and declared to friends that he was in love with her. One night, the bird flew into Tesla's room close to death, and according to Tesla, a light came from her eyes more intense than that of the most powerful lamps in his laboratory before she died in his arms. Tesla said that at that same moment, he knew his life's work was finished. Tesla's Pigeon is sung from the dove's perspective in these final moments, and explores parallels between the relationship between Tesla and his pigeon, and Prospero and Ariel in Shakespeare's The Tempest, with text adapted from Ariel's songs, Goethe's Faust, the poetry of George Sylvester Viereck, Serbian traditional song and poetry, and personal letters to Tesla.
To Hell and Back
Based on the Greco-Roman myth of Persephone, librettist Gene Scheer formulated a modern tale of two women: Stephanie and Anne. This is a story of gods and mortals – the ones within each of us. Stephanie (Persephone) is a young woman who has survived a violently abusive marriage to Peter (Pluto) thanks to a heroic act by Anne (Cyane). Both women are from a very small town in Appalachia. The story unfolds as Stephanie calls Anne. She has written her story down as part of her rehab in Arizona, and calls to see if Anne has received a copy. Anne is her hero, but is still in Appalachia living with the fact that it was her own son, Peter, who married Stephanie and nearly beat her to death; trying hard to believe it was something other than what it was; struggling to create a reality where she can live and not be torn apart by anguish.