We're deeply saddened by Robert Ashley's passing on March 3rd. The production of these operas has taken on a new meaning: to honor Bob and his singular voice.
We will celebrate his life and genius at the Whitney Biennial.
This April, an extraordinary group of multi-disciplinary artists will stage three operas by avant-garde composer Robert Ashley, directed by Alex Waterman at the 2014 Whitney Biennial in NYC:
- The World Premiere of Crash (2014), a new autobiographical opera for six voices
- A live television production of all 7 episodes of Vidas Perfectas, the Spanish version of Ashley’s monumental television-opera Perfect Lives (1983)
- A recreation of his early “speaking opera” The Trial of Anne Opie Wehrer and Unknown Accomplices for Crimes Against Humanity (1968).
Over 30 artists and technicians are involved in these productions, which will include the building of a TV studio inside the Whitney Museum of Art for the recording and live mixing of Vidas Perfectas in front of a live studio audience.
The Whitney Biennial project is an exciting culmination of a decade of research, writing, performances, and productions of Ashley's work by Alex Waterman.
To make this ambitious project a reality, and to compensate all of the incredible collaborators involved, we’re reaching out to you, the Kickstarter community, for your support.
*** Special Benefit Concert at ISSUE Project Room March 24 ***
We are excited to offer a special benefit concert hosted by Issue Project Room on Monday, March 24, 2014 to our Kickstarter supporters who pledge $50 or more. Pledges at $125 or more include a +1.
Featuring solo performances by Vidas Perfectas collaborators Peter Gordon, Elio Villafranca, Ned Sublette, and Alex Waterman, followed by a dance party.
Sponsored by The New York Distilling Company.
Seating at this event is limited. We suggest making your pledges early to secure your tickets.
An RSVP confirmation will be sent through Kickstarter following your pledge of $50 or more.
***ABOUT THE OPERAS***
Note: Funds from Kickstarter will go toward paying production costs of Crash, however performance fees for the singers and sound designer are being generously paid by Mimi Johnson / Performing Artservices, Inc. The production costs we need to cover include sound and light rentals, technicians, and recording and filming.
Crash is Robert Ashley’s final work, a new opera written specifically for the occasion of the Whitney Biennial, where it will have its world premiere. An autobiographical account of Ashley’s life, from year one to year 84 (March 28 would be his 84th birthday), it is an opera for six voices performed in six 15-minute long acts. Throughout the opera, there will be projections of photographs of vast landscapes by Philip Makanna, which will create an ideal space for listening and for meditation.
(running time: 90 minutes)
Thursday, April 10 at 4pm
Friday, April 11 at 6:30pm
Saturday, April 12 at 4pm
Sunday, April 13 at 4pm
Vidas Perfectas juxtaposes characters as all-American as the Captain of the Football Team and the Homecoming Queen with a shout out to Giordano Bruno, The Monk, Mystic and Mnemonist...But above all what struck me was that the collision of these elements resulted in something far more affecting than the sum of its parts. - Augusta Palmer
Vidas Perfectas is a Spanish-language version of Ashley's groundbreaking “television opera” Perfect Lives (1983), in a translation by Javier Sainz de Robles. In Vidas Perfectas, we witness an America where Spanish and English are mutually understood through the transformative and magical act of singing. Originally set on “The Corn Belt,” Vidas Perfectas transports us to the border towns of Texas – a vision of a new America.The 2014 Whitney Biennial marks the beginning of the filming and recording of the complete opera (all 7 episodes) in full theatrical staging. All episodes will be filmed in front of a live audience, in collaboration with Scott Kiernan and Victoria Keddie of E.S.P. TV, on the 2nd floor of the Whitney Museum.
Footage shot on-location in Marfa, Texas in February 2014 will be mixed with live camera feeds as part of the live television experience. Between the performances, Waterman and E.S.P. TV will use the room as their workspace to rehearse, edit, and prepare footage for live television; a living installation of the artist at work. Vidas Perfectas will have subsequent performances in El Paso, TX; Ciudad Juárez, Mexico; and Marfa, TX in July 2014.
Performance Schedule(running time: 30 minutes per episode plus 15-minute set change)Thursday, April 17 at 1:30pm (El Parque, La Iglesia) & 4:30pm (La Iglesia, El Parque) Friday, April 18 at 1:30pm (El Banco, El Salon) & 6:30pm (El Banco, El Salon, El Bar) Saturday, April 19 at 12pm (El Supermercado, El Banco) & 4:30pm (El Bar, El Patio de Atras) Sunday, April 20 at 12pm (El Supermercado, El Bar) & 4:30pm (El Parque, El Patio de Atras)
THE TRIAL OF ANNE OPIE WEHRER
The Trial of Anne Opie Wehrer and Unknown Accomplices for Crimes Against Humanity is a “speaking opera” from 1968, in which the main speaker (Anne Opie Wehrer in the original) is asked to publicly answer one hundred questions about her life (by an interrogator offstage). A series of improvised interruptions, diversions, and cross-examinations by two pairs of men and women creates a cacophonous score, with sounds of evasions, sarcastic questions and answers, laughter, and a huge, complex “story” about life as they all have lived it.
At the Biennial Anne Opie Wehrer will be replaced by four contemporary art-world personalities – artist Amy Sillman (also exhibiting in the Biennial), poet and cultural critic Wayne Koestenbaum, artist, actress, and forensic therapist Mary Farley, and visual artist Barbara Bloom.
The new version of the piece will realize Anne Opie Wehrer’s dream of being at The Whitney, almost 40 years to the day after she wrote a letter to Marcia Tucker in 1974, “Proposed for the Whitney – in its museum form as a living sculpture.”
(running time: approximately 2 ½ hours)
Wednesday, April 23 at 2pm
Thursday, April 24 at 2pm
Saturday, April 26 at 2pm
Sunday, April 27 at 2pm
From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU for your support.
Operas by Robert Ashley
Directed by Alex Waterman
Performances at The Whitney Biennial Co-Produced by Alexandra Rosenberg and Mimi Johnson / Performing Artservices, Inc. in association with ArKtype / Thomas O. Kriegsmann, and Vidas Perfectas Co-Produced by Ballroom Marfa and El Paso Opera
Vidas Perfectas Music Produced by Peter Gordon
Production Design by Sean Daly
Vidas Perfectas Sets and Backdrops by Sarah Crowner
Lighting by David Moodey
Live Video Composition by Scott Kiernan and Victoria Keddie of E.S.P. TV
Crash Sound Engineered by Tom Hamilton
Vidas Perfectas Sound Engineered by Adam Bach
Vidas Perfectas Costumes by Elisa Santiago with Twan Meijerink
Crash Slide Projections by Phil MakannaCRASH Projection Score Controlled by Nikolai Antonie, David Gutkin and Andrea Springer
Fundraising and Events Coordinator: Alisa Besher
Vidas Perfectas performed by Ned Sublette, Elio Villafranca, Raul de Nieves, and Elisa Santiago
Crash performed by Amirtha Kidambi, Aliza Simons, Gelsey Bell, Brian McCorkle, Paul Pinto, and Dave Ruder
The Trial of Annie Opie Wehrer performed by Amy Sillman, Wayne Koestenbaum, Mary Farley, and Barbara Bloom.
Proxies performed by Kendra Sullivan and Alisa Besher.
Kickstarter video by Josephine Sedgwick
Taping of Alex Waterman by Ines Portugal
Special Thanks: Issue Project Room
We're so grateful for your support and are happy to show our gratitude by offering some great gifts at various pledge levels.
Here's a look at some of what we're offering:
All pledge levels will receive password protected sneak-peak videos of performance footage.
With a pledge of $25 you'll receive this commemorative print, designed by David Reinfurt, reinterpreting Robert Ashley's graphic template for Perfect Lives with the cast and crew of the original performances of Vidas Perfectas in 2011. 7 color offset print, 8.5x11 inches.
A pledge of $50 or more gets you a ticket to our benefit concert at ISSUE Project Room on March 24, 2014.
For pledges of $500 or more, we're giving these gorgeous, limited edition Vidas Perfectas posters designed by Will Holder for the premiere performance of Vidas Perfectas at the Irondale Center in Brooklyn. 2-color offset print, 18x24 inches- in 3 twilight colors.
At $2500 we're offering a limited edition of the beautiful White on White Score Print (valued at $500): Robert Ashley's 1963 score for "Trios II" (White on White) realized by artist Will Holder with Alex Waterman. Three matrices of numbers are superimposed in matte white ink, gloss white ink, and embossing. 8.5x11 inches.
Risks and challenges
This ambitious project has taken up the better part of our lives for the past year (or years, depending on who you're talking to!)
Producing three operas at once, performing at the Whitney, filming in Marfa, honoring the work of Robert Ashley, such a seminal and important figure to the art world who continues to inspire and alter our understanding of opera, music, and performance … it's no small feat.
But this project is so of the moment, so vitally important to the field, to Bob, to all of us … we have no choice but to take it on with every ounce of our creative beings.
To move forward guided solely by our passion is - we admit - quite terrifying. And that's why we need your help:
Without these funds, we cannot pay the performers, designers, producers, engineers, and technicians for their extraordinary work and collaboration. And that would be a hard truth to bear.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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