Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali

Start watching
Fine Cut

Fine Cut

Start watching
SoCal Update

SoCal Update

Start watching
a large damn with graffiti of a woman with a hammer on it, mountains in the background

Earth Focus Presents

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
Professor T

Professor T (Belgium)

Start watching
Artbound

Artbound

Start watching
Emma

Emma

Start watching
Guilt

Guilt

Start watching
Line of Separation Key Art.

Line of Separation

Start watching
Us

Us

Start watching
The Latino Experience

The Latino Experience

Start watching
Key Art of "Summer of Rockets" featuring Keeley Hawes and Toby Stephens.

Summer of Rockets

Start watching
Death in Paradise Series 10

Death in Paradise

Start watching
millionaire still

KCET Must See Movies

Start watching
Independent Lens

Independent Lens

Start watching
MJ250sC-show-poster2x3-Bflky7i.png

Tending Nature

Start watching
Earth Focus

Earth Focus

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.
Artbound

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.

Read more
Support Provided By
Full Episodes
Season
The sign outside the Watts Towers Art Center | Still from "The Watts Towers Arts Center" ab s11 episode image
Episode
57:08
Artbound

The Watts Towers Arts Center

The Watts Towers Arts Center was born out of the resilience of 1960s Black L.A.
Participants play a tug of war during the Watts Cookbook © event initiated by ToroLab 2019 | Panic Studio LA, Courtesy of City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs, CURRENT:LA Food© ab s11 episode image
Episode
52:45
Artbound

CURRENT:LA FOOD

Artists created works to spark conversation about L.A. and sustainable futures.
Mekala Session playing drums with a purple background | Samantha Lee "The New West Coast Sound: An L.A. Jazz Legacy" ab s11 episode image
Episode
55:57
Artbound

The New West Coast Sound - An L.A. Jazz Legacy

Drummer Mekala Session and other artists carry forward Los Angeles’ rich jazz legacy.
A large-scale Light and Space artwork from Robert Irwin called "untitled (dawn to dusk.)" | Still from Artbound "Light & Space" ab s11
Episode
56:43
Artbound

Light & Space

Robert Irwin, Larry Bell and Helen Pashgian explore perception, material and experience.
Jeffrey Deitch at his desk | Still from "Artbound" Jeffrey Deitch's Los Angeles
Episode
54:08
Artbound

Jeffrey Deitch's Los Angeles

A behind-the-scenes look at the contemporary art world through the eyes of a legendary art dealer and curator, Jeffrey Deitch.
How Sweet the Sound gospel music primary Gospel ABs10
Episode
52:51
Artbound

How Sweet The Sound: Gospel In Los Angeles

Gospel music would not be what it is today if not for the impact left by Los Angeles in the late 60’s and early 70’s, a time defined by political movements across the country.
Woman in calavera face paint during Día de los Muertos | Photo from "Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead" ABs10
Episode
56:18
Artbound

Dia de Los Muertos / Day of the Dead

Inspired by Oaxacan traditions, Dia de Los Muertos was brought to L.A. in the '70s as a way to enrich and reclaim Chicano identity. It has since grown in proportions and is celebrated around the world.