January 9-14, 2018

libretto by DEBORAH ARTMAN
directed by DANIEL FISH
scenic design by JIM FINDLAY
video design by Josh Higgason
lighting design by Xavier Pierce

Run time: 70 minutes

Chamber version commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects for PROTOTYPE Festival 2018.

Acquanetta (mezzo-soprano) – Mikaela Bennet
Brainy Woman (soprano) – Amelia Watkins
Ape (soprano) – Eliza Bagg
Doctor (tenor) – Timur
Director (bass/baritone) – Matthew Boehler
Chorus – Members of the Choir of Trinity Church Wall Street
Ensemble – Bang on a Can


In the new opera Acquanetta, the spirit of 1940’s horror movies is turned inside out in a bravura, one-act deconstruction of the genre that explores how vision relates to identity. Characters include the mad scientist Doctor, the insistent Ape, the reluctant Brainy Woman, the visionary Director and the beautiful Acquanetta, aka Mildred Davenport, an actress who disguised her identity. Acquanetta examines the ways the movie camera manipulates how we see and are seen. In soaring, sometimes comic and always indelible songs that capture the heightened drama of horror films, these vivid characters reveal their inner longings and emotional shadows in what is ultimately a haunting meditation on the meaning of identity, transformation, stereotypes and typecasting, set in the heyday of Hollywood gloss.

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“Michael Gordon’s music combines the fury of punk rock, the nervous brilliance of free jazz and the intransigence of classical modernism” – Alex Ross, The New Yorker

“The opera turns the story of that campy film’s star into a somberly ritualistic meditation on public versus private identities.” – Anthony Thommasini, New York Times

“Gordon’s opera Acquanetta draws its irresistible appeal above all from the continual ecstasy of vital, forward chasing, metrical patterns copied over one another…. There is no dull second in this thrilling, entertaining work.” – Eleonore Büning, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“A fascinating experience of modern psychological theater.” – Hanns Mänhardt, Super Sonntag

“The theatregoer who is prepared for a transposition of familiar elements into a new conception will hardly be able to pull himself away from the entertaining density of Acquanetta…. Without ever losing inner momentum, the musicians of the orchestra plumb the contrasting depths of meditative calm and powerful energy with precision and technically based self-confidence.” – Brigitte Kempen, Aachener Nachrichten/Aachener Zeitung

Image: Courtesy of Universal Studios Licensing LLC