PROTOTYPE: Opera/Theatre/Now launched in January 2013, unleashing a powerful wave of opera- and music-theatre from a new generation of composers and librettists. Across its first four seasons, PROTOTYPE produced and presented a total of 130 performances of 23 presentations, shared the work of more than 400 local, national, and international artists, exposed visionary work to more than 15,000 people, and filled 22 stages across multiple boroughs of New York City. Now in its fifth season, Prototype, as Opera News proclaimed, “has become a major leader in opera theatre for the twenty-first century.”
Founded, produced, and directed by Kristin Marting (of HERE), Beth Morrison (of Beth Morrison Projects), and Kim Whitener (of HERE), PROTOTYPE supports and spotlights a diverse range of culturally and socially engaged work from intrepid creators across ethnicity and gender. Half of PROTOTYPE’s lead artists to date have been women, and the Festival has presented work from Belgian, Chinese, Dutch, Egyptian-American, Indian-American, Irish, Kazakh, Korean-American, Lithuanian, Mexican, Russian, and Slovenian lead artists.
WORLD PREMIERE 2017
Mata Hari is a world premiere hybrid opera-theatre piece inspired by the legendary and controversial female mystic dancer Mata Hari, who was executed for espionage during World War One. Mata Hari is an operatic exploration of a woman who finds herself ostracized, made a scapegoat, and executed by a moral society dominated by men. This original work pushes the operatic form through the use of physical theater, unconventional instrumentation, historical texts, and highly manipulated video design.
Mata Hari is the most challenging project that I have undertaken to date. Not only is this my debut as a librettist, the project also integrates physical theatre, 6 singers, 4 instrumentalists, an actor,and interactive video art. After eight years of working in regional opera I am at a point in my career where I am ready to develop my own opera aesthetic and tell stories outside the standard operatic repertoire. This project presents a chance for me to leave mainstream opera and collaborate with a living composer for the first time. I find Matt Marks’ music compelling, because his compositions draw from multiple genres of music juxtaposed with non-fictional sources of text. His music evokes the elusive nature of Mata Hari where fact and fiction are sometimes difficult to discern. Mata Hari’s name is synonymous with the modern archetype of the “Femme Fatale”. As a librettist I find this archetype fascinating, because it engages the darker side of women’s nature. The challenge will be to create a text that illuminates the humanity behind the icon of Mata Hari. As a director I am attracted to this project because of the innovative approach to push the boundaries of the operatic form. To develop new audiences opera needs to evolve with current artistic trends particularly with integrating various technologies into the form. Live video effects layered into the narrative will express a non-linear recalling of Mata Hari’s memories, hopes and fears. My vision integrates the combining of stylized movement, imagery and live music into the stage action to convey a psychological reality that encompasses both the fictional and factual aspects of Mata Hari’s story.