Review: Lisa Bielawa’s television opera “Vireo”

Posted on: July 10, 2017

“Composer Lisa Bielawa—though not directly influenced by [Robert] Ashley’s television operas—is moving in the general direction of more accessible contemporary classical music with her online opera Vireo, a twelve-episode series concerning itself with witchcraft and time travel, available for anyone to binge-watch via KCET,” writes Rebecca Lentjes on Wednesday (7/5) at icareifyoulisten.com. “The accessibility of Vireo allows for a fluidity of time and space, not only lending the viewer the capacity to play with time but also allowing for flexibility within the world of the opera itself. Roving camerawork through cavernous and labyrinthine sets demonstrate the depth that is possible when opera is not limited to the stage…. Unusual textures, including those created on Harry Partch’s handmade microtonal instruments, underline the sense of otherworldliness…. Soprano Rowen Sabala, only 17 years old when the opera was filmed, handled intricate and erratic vocal lines with ease. Vireo features the collaborations of dozens of new music groups including Kronos Quartet and Alarm Will Sound, resulting in its own world that Bielawa described as … ‘a massive, constantly changing organism with new relationships and energies being created all the time.’ ”

Posted July 10, 2017