Rowen Sabala / Lisa Bielawa / Laurie Rubin

Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch's Accuser

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Vireo is a full-length opera, chamber-sized in most of its ensembles but involving some 350 musicians in its constantly shifting groups of musicians, solo vocalists, and choirs. It comprises a set of 12 "episodes" about the experiences of the titular figure, a 14-year-old girl who, to borrow a phrase from Kurt Vonnegut, has come unstuck in time: she encounters not only a variety of medieval persecutors but also modern figures such as psychiatrists. The project had its genesis in composer Lisa Bielawa's undergraduate thesis on witchcraft and has gradually grown in collaboration with librettist Erik Ehn over two decades. Musically, too, the work is unstuck in time, drawing on sources from Schoenberg to Britten, to marching bands, Harry Partch, the Swingle Singers, and Philip Glass, on whose Orange Mountain Music the opera appears. Glass has been known for many years for his innovations in presenting and financing new music, and so it is here; the other innovation in this album is that it is not primarily conceived in terms of live performance, but for presentation on television or online. From a perspective of sheer financing success, the opera has been a roaring success: major stars such as Deborah Voigt (as the Queen of Sweden) and the Kronos Quartet are present, and the lead singer, Rowen Sabala, is a major find. There is no booklet, but the package includes the opera in both audio and DVD form, and the DVD has subtitles. A major operatic statement.

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
blue highlight denotes track pick