Mordake (world premiere)
Presented by Erling Wold's Fabrications, Footloose Studios and SFIAF
Mordake is being created by a team led by San Francisco composer Erling Wold and German computer engineer and sound designer Frieder Weiß along with tenor John Duykers, director Melissa "Missy" Weaver and libretto by poet Douglas Kearney. The plot line is inspired by the strange case of Edward Mordake and his 'devil twin' - a man tormented by a voice coming from a woman's face on the back of his head.
Erling Wold is an eclectic San Francisco composer whose work in experimental musical theatre has impressed audiences and critics internationally. His Mass after Blessed Notker the Stammerer has its premiere this spring at the Dom Cathedral in St Gallen, Switzerland and, in addition to Mordake, he is also working on a fantasy autobiographical sex comedy opera with a libretto by linguist James Bisso. The last few years have seen a number of performances of orchestral works, the premiere of his dance theater work Blinde Liebe in Nürnberg, Amsterdam and in San Francisco, and the premiere of his opera Sub Pontio Pilato, an abstract historical fantasy on the death and remembrance of Pontius Pilate in the US and Austria. He was artist in residence at ODC theater in San Francisco, where he presented a trilogy of chamber operas, including one based on William Burroughs' early autobiographical novel Queer. His critically acclaimed work A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil, based on the Max Ernst collage novel, has had a number of independent productions in the US and Europe, including one by the city of Brühl, Max Ernst's birthplace. The Village Voice referred to Wold as "the Eric Satie of Berkeley surrealist/minimalist electro-artrock." He is a co-founder and associate music director of the San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra. He has published technical and artistic articles widely, has a number patents in audio and musical signal processing and holds a doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley. Erling Wold's teachers include Gerard Grisey, Robert Gross, Andrew Imbrie and John Chowning.
Frieder Weiß is an expert in the fields of realtime computing and interactive computer systems in performance art. As codirector of the Palindrome Intermedia Performance Group he developed technologies and concepts for the use of digital systems in dance performance. With Palindrome he developed a number of award-winning performances and installation projects. He is the author of EyeCon and Kalypso, video motion sensing programs especially designed for use with dance, music and computer art. This software is now used by numerous artists around the world. Weiß has also designed miniaturized portable devices to allow the individual muscle contractions of a dancer's body to control other media. One such system makes dancers' heartbeats available to control other media (such as the tempo of the music). He is teaching Media Technology at the University of Applied Sciences in Nürnberg, University of the Arts in Bern and the University centre in Doncaster, UK. In recent years he has cooperated in installation and performance projects with Phase-7 in Berlin, Leine und Roebana in Amsterdam, Helga Pogatschar, Cesc Gelabert in Munich, and Chunky Move in Melbourne.
John Duykers made his professional operatic debut with Seattle Opera in 1966. Since then he has appeared with many of the leading opera companies of the world including The Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and Royal Opera Covent Garden. He is particularly well known for his performances of contemporary music, having sung in 80 contemporary operas including 47 world premieres. Among these, in 1987 he created the role of Mao Tse Tung in John Adams' Nixon in China which was premiered with Houston Grand Opera and he has performed throughout the world. Nixon in China was telecast over PBS' "Great Performances" winning an Emmy and recorded for Nonesuch, winning a Grammy. He created the roles of The Blind King and Krishna in the world premiere of Kali by Tony Prabowo and Jarrad Powell at On the Boards in Seattle. During the 2000-2001 season he created the role of The Visitor in the premiere of In The Penal Colony by Philip Glass. Subsequently he created the role of the Older Galileo in Galileo Galilei by Philip Glass and Mary Zimmerman. Independently produced new works include Caliban Dreams by Clark Suprynowicz and Amanda Moody, Bitter Harvest by Kurt Rohde for Kent Nagano and the Berkeley Symphony, The Tyrant by Paul Dresher and Jim Lewis, with the Seattle Chamber Players, the American Music Theatre Festival in Philadelphia and Cleveland Opera. Duykers is currently Assistant Professor of Voice and Opera - Frost School of Music, University of Miami.
Melissa Weaver is a native of Texas where as a child she was 'bitten with the theater bug' studying at Chris Wilson's Studio 7 in the Houston Music Theater and performing in Donizetti's The Elixir of Love with Houston Grand Opera. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music Theater, graduating summa cum laude in 1977 from USIU's School of Performing and Visual Arts in San Diego. She continued graduate studies in Stage Direction/Lighting at U. of Texas at Austin, where in 1980 she met John Duykers. Their partnership began with the staging of Mad King and Henze's El Cimarron, which was given the LA Times Beckmesser Award for Outstanding Contemporary Performance in 1983. Weaver and Duykers were founding members of George Coates Performance Works and she was production director for the Paul Dresher Ensemble from 1986-99. In 1991, Weaver and Duykers formed Agape Performance Group. They remain dedicated to the creation of new opera theater works. Recently, Weaver re-mounted the popular and critically acclaimed Serial Murderess, her third collaboration with Amanda Moody, and directed the experimental dance opera entitled Kali by Indonesian poet Gonewan Mohammad and composers Jarrad Powell and Tony Prabowo. Performed by the New Jakarta Ensemble featuring tenor Duykers, Kali was produced at On the Boards in Seattle by Gamelan Pacifica in 2000; it is slated to be remounted in Europe. Weaver is currently collaborating with Moody in the development of composer Kurt Rohde's Bitter Harvest, an original staged oratorio for Duykers, two soloists and chorus. The piece was commissioned for the Berkeley Symphony, under the musical direction of Kent Nagano.
Douglas Kearney received an MFA in Writing from the California Institute of the Arts. He is currently developing a libretto for an opera in an invented language with composer Grisha Coleman and a libretto for a horror opera with composer Wes Hambright. Mr. Kearney recently completed libretto work on Eisa Davis's play, Six Minutes, which was selected by the Hip Hop Theatre Festival for a showcase reading at Harlem's Aaron Davis Hall. He also co-wrote the libretto for Le Point Vierge, a "compositopera" developed by Missy Weaver and John Duykers for performance at CalArts' MOD Theatre. Mr. Kearney co-produced Blue/Print, a poetry CD featuring Harryette Mullen, Fred Moten, Ishmael Wadada, Leo Smith, himself and others. Other recordings include guest performances on Test Type Trio's eponymous electro-acid jazz album, Pat "Nazirah" Mickey's "Nazirah's Playhouse," and Thien-bao Thuc Phi's upcoming "Refugeography." He has performed his work all over the country, including commissioned work for the Weisman Museum of Art in Minneapolis, a showcase performance at the 2002 Slam Nationals, LA's World Stage and New York's Public Theatre and Bowery Poetry Club. His poetry has been published in anthologies including Dark Matter: Reading the Bones, Bum Rush, The Page, Role Call and several journals including Callaloo and nocturnes. He currently teaches poetry and contemporary mythmaking at CalArts. His first poetry collection, Fear, some, was released by Red Hen Press in the fall of 2005.