River Spirits: An abstract fable

April 13-19, 2020

In August of 2018, sopranos Mary Bonhag, Susan Botti, and Lucy Shelton gathered in Yellow Barn’s artist studios and began developing River Spirits, a new work and abstract fable by Ms. Botti. They now return with an ensemble of players from the Folger and 21st Century Consorts, and from Yellow Barn, to focus on the work’s musical foundation, and to begin conversations with set designer Leslie Taylor, as they consider its intended multi-media environment.

Susan Botti describes her new work in this way:

In River Spirits, the three singing characters may be from another time, from another world, or may be a part of one being, but all are sentient and content until their sanctuary is altered by the appearance of messages from outside their world. In an allegorical fashion, the story portrays the altering effects of human passions, both on individuals and on community, as well as the healing powers of compassion and love.

As I explore the idea of language as a remnant of civilization, I have created and compiled texts that represent a mixture of languages, nonsense, and music, in layers of fragmented meaning. These sounds and words are a gateway to underlying contexts and intentions, reminiscent of Medieval motets (which use multiple texts to convey layered meanings), operatic aria (which expresses heightened emotions with minimal text), and “grammelot” (the language of invented words used in the Commedia dell’Arte).

Residency Concert

Sunday, April 19 | 7:30pm

This Artist Residency will conclude with an informal public performance.