Robin Rhode works with photography, performance, drawing, and sculpture to create arrestingly beautiful narratives that draw from a rich range of historical and contemporary references. For first foray into opera, he chose the challenging "Erwartung" by Arnold Schönberg, which takes the unusual form of a one-act monodrama for a solo soprano, accompanied by a large orchestra.
For Rhode, this atonal opera about love, loss, and lamentation, recalls the many hardships experienced by women in South Africa during and after the fall of Apartheid. The absentism caused by men who left home to seek employment in cities and gold mines, or those men who were either detained or who went into political exile, reminds the artist of the deep psychosis of loss and lamentation experienced by Schönberg's soprano character Die Frau.
Says Rhode, "In the original stage setting we encounter the soprano, at night, walking in a dark forest, her only light source is that of a moon that shines through the darkened branches of trees. I began to imagine Times Square as a setting for my 21st century version. The steel skyscrapers here act as dark, shimmering, tall trees in an imaginary urban forest, the bright neon ambient lights from the billboards becoming the moonlight for the soprano while she is in her hallucinatory, disordered mindset."
Composer: Arnold Schönberg
Artistic Director: Robin Rhode
Orchestral Conductor: Arturo Tamayo
Soprano: Carole Sidney Louis
Male Character: Moses Leo
Orchestra: Wet Ink Ensemble
Executive Producer: Raphael Oeschger
Associate Producers: PERFORMA and RHODEWORKS GmbH
Co-presented with Performa 15