First Person: Composer Lisa Bielawa on 'Vireo' | Link TV
First Person: Composer Lisa Bielawa on 'Vireo'
Witches. Wisdom. Wonder. Vireo is an opera created for TV and online broadcast that considers the usage of "female hysteria" throughout the decades. The multi-episode production was composed by Lisa Bielawa on a libretto by Erik Ehn and directed by Charles Otte. "Vireo" is the winner of the 2015 ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Multimedia Award.
Twenty years ago composer Lisa Bielawa was inspired by her studies of hysteria and worked with librettist Erik Ehn to create the work "Vireo." Artbound spoke with Bielawa to explore the stories behind the creation of "Vireo" and the historical context behind the episodic opera.
On the conceptual basis of "Vireo"
Vireo really had its birth in the Beinecke Rare Book Library at Yale. I was writing a senior essay that ended up being three times as long as it was supposed to be. It kind of took over my life. I initially thought that I was looking at collaborative male authorship on the subject of female protagonists. But what I found was much, much more than I had bargained for.
It's just unbelievable how many collaborative writings -- case histories, trial documents, evidence of communities of men throughout Western history -- who convened in order to create all kinds of discourse around the same subject matter, which was teenage girls, who were having some kind of transcendent experience.
What actual fields these men were from changed: Were they doctors? Were they priests? In some cases they were experimental artists, who were giving young girls absinthe in the back of a bar, and watching them create spontaneous, automatic poetry.
But the evidence of these young girls was in these collaborative documents that I found. These writings or trial documents that I found, in which there was at the center of it, a young teenage girl. But her own direct voice was missing. It was through the prismatic analysis of what she was saying and doing that you learned about the re-articulation of this phenomenon throughout Western history.
That senior essay is still filed there somewhere at Yale, but I came away from my experience at Yale with all of this research. I remember when Erik Ehn and I started working on this opera. It was before emails, of course. I used to send these thick packages to him. I couldn't believe I was working with someone who would read this stuff. I finally felt that I had found a way to engage with the stuff that I had found through this collaboration and through this project.
Frank Lloyd Wright accelerated the search for L.A.'s authentic architecture. This episode explores the provocative theory that his early homes in L.A. were also a means of artistic catharsis for Wright.
The vast, strange, sometimes contradictory world of the urban desert and its people are explored in 11 public art exhibits and their respective locations scattered throughout Coachella Valley.
For more than 20 years, Doug Aitken has shifted the perception and location of images and narratives. His diverse works demonstrate the nature and structure of our ever-mobile, ever-changing, image-based contemporary condition.
This look at Los Angeles’ Olvera Street is part-history lesson and part-immersion in stereotype of the birthplace of Los Angeles.
In East L.A. during the 1960s and 1970s, a group of young activists used creative tools like writing and photography as a means for community organizing, providing a platform for the Chicano Movement.
- 1 of 10
- next ›
Season 9, Episode 1
During his time spent in Southern California in the late 1910s and early 1920s, Frank Lloyd Wright accelerated the search for an authentic L.A. architecture that was suitable to the city's culture and landscape. Writer/Director Christopher Hawthorne, architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times, explores the houses the legendary architect built in Los Angeles. The documentary also delves into the critic's provocative theory that these homes were also a means of artistic catharsis for Wright, who was recovering from a violent tragic episode in his life.
Season 9, Episode 2
The vast, strange, sometimes contradictory world of the urban desert and its people are explored in 11 public art exhibits and their respective locations scattered throughout Coachella Valley. Art includes Will Boone’s “Monument,” an underground bunker off Ramon Road in Rancho Mirage and Phillip K. Smith III’s “Circle of Land and Sky” in Palm Desert. Desert X is a site-specific biennial exhibition that first took place in the spring of 2017 where artists from different parts of the world were invited to create work in response to the unique conditions of the Coachella Valley
Season 9, Episode 3
This episode profiles prominent artist Doug Aitken who for more than 20 years has shifted the perception and location of images and narratives. His multichannel video installations, sculptures, photographs, publications, happenings and architectural works demonstrate the nature and structure of our ever-mobile, ever-changing, image-based contemporary condition. In his newest piece, “Underwater Pavilions,” he creates a conversation with the viewer to become fully present and immersed in the sea.
Season 9, Episode 4
This look at Los Angeles’ Olvera Street is part-history lesson and part-immersion in stereotype of the birthplace of Los Angeles. Emmy® award-winning journalist, author and musician Rubén Martínez, explores the sometimes-violent, 200-year struggle for the political and symbolic control of the city as told in “Variedades” — an interdisciplinary performance series that brings together music, spoken word, theater, comedy and the visual arts, loosely based on the Mexican vaudeville shows of early-20th century Los Angeles.
Season 9, Episode 5
In East Los Angeles during the late 1960s and 1970s, a group of young activists used creative tools like writing and photography as a means for community organizing, providing a platform for the Chicano Movement in the form of the bilingual newspaper/magazine La Raza. In the process, the young activists became artists themselves and articulated a visual language that shed light on the daily life, concerns and struggles of the Mexican-American experience in Southern California and provided a voice to the Chicano Rights Movement.
Two extraordinary women of Palestinian descent, Reem Assil and Lamees Dahbour, use food to bring their misunderstood homeland closer to Western tolerance and acceptance.KCET Original
The groundbreaking investigative documentary Company Town follows local pastor David Bouie as he fights to save his community.
Filmed over 211 shoot days in nine countries and five continents over four years, "This Changes Everything" is an epic attempt to re-imagine the vast challenge of climate change.
L'Impératrice L'Impératrice, Okonkolo, Sevdaliza, Cuco, Tirzah and Rosalía.KCET Original
California is the world's fifth largest economy — yet, hiding in plain sight are workers who labor off the books, unprotected and unregulated. Follow four California workers organizing to find pathways for legalization and protection.KCET Original
George crisscrosses Laos to witness a nation entering the modern world.
After his failed assignment, Nicky has fallen out of favor with the Swede and is tipped over the edge when he can't get answers from him.
In a city under pressure, where conflict can break out at any moment, a new generation of artists are rising above Beirut’s bullet-holed past.
“Power Struggle” chronicles a successful grassroots citizens’ effort to shut down a nuclear power plant in Vermont.
- 1 of 4
- next ›