Great ideas: a streamable opera miniseries

Great ideas: a streamable opera miniseries

Jenna Simeonov

Remember how we complained about how there’s no opera on Netflix?

Well, there still isn’t. But we’ve discovered Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch’s Accuser, an ambitious project that, hopefully will inspire more like it. Composer Lisa Bielawa and librettist Erik Ehn are in the midst of creating Vireo, a series of operatic episodes, two of which are now available to stream online. The story centres on Vireo, a representative young woman who hears voices and experiences visions. Bielawa was inspired by the repetitive story trope about young women having visions and apparently auditory hallucinations, and the common thread of male doctors and priests taking it upon themselves to “explain” what these women were experiencing.

“I encountered this rash of young girls caught up in these stories involving various men and communities of men who were fascinated by their visionary experiences,” Bielawa told LA Weekly.

The full series of episodes in the story of Vireo is a project of Grand Central Art, and will be available in the spring of 2017, via KCET’s Artbound.

The first two episodes, directed by Charles Otte, feature Rowen Avery Sabala as Vireo, mezzo-soprano Laurie Rubin as The Voice, and the ubiquitous Kronos Quartet. Cameras capture the live experience of opera, including the Quartet and a staged set. It’s precisely how we imagine opera made for filmed media.

We’re not necessarily sold on this piece in particular, but production format is an exciting precedent.

It’s totally worth a watch. Click here to watch Part One (“The Blow”) and Two (“Mercury”).

Stay in touch with the creators of Vireo on Twitter and Facebook.

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