"Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch’s Accuser" is a new opera composed by Lisa Bielawa on a libretto by Erik Ehn and directed by Charles Otte, which is unprecedented in that it is being created expressly for episodic release via broadcast and online media. "Vireo" is the winner of the 2015 ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Multimedia Award.
"Vireo" is currently in production. In spring 2017, KCET will release the entire season of "Vireo" at once for free, on-demand streaming.
"Vireo" considers the nature and uses of female hysteria through time, as witch-hunters, early psychiatrists, and modern artists variously define the condition. Based on composer Bielawa’s own research at Yale as a literature major, then freely adapted and re-imagined by librettist Ehn, "Vireo" is a composite history of the way in which teenage-girl visionaries’ behaviors have been manipulated, incorporated, and interpreted by the communities of men surrounding them throughout history, from the European Dark Ages, to Salem, Massachusetts, 19th century France, the Surrealists in Paris, and contemporary performance art. Featuring arias for dying cows, infatuated students, disembodied ageless women, and the mysterious twin of "Vireo," the opera provides a thoughtful, and sometimes humorous look at the universal issues of gender identity, perception, and reality.
An innovating opera not only through content but through form, "Vireo" allows greater access of opera to a broader audience, through mainstream media and contemporary delivery systems. The piece considers authoritarian responses to independent, inspired imaginations, especially as they abide in young women. It scrutinizes the representation of women both in the historical form of opera and in modern media.
Through a partnership with KCETLink, the national independent, non-profit digital and broadcast network, the unique multimedia initiative will include online articles and videos showcasing the production’s creative process, as well as a television special presented by Artbound, KCETLink’s Emmy ® award-winning arts and culture series. "Vireo" is an artist residency project of Grand Central Art Center (GCAC), under the direction of director/chief curator John Spiak. GCAC is an outgrowth of California State University, Fullerton. Future episodes of "Vireo" will be taped at other venues throughout the country, with a wide variety of presenting partners and performers.
"Vireo" is produced by Lisa Bielawa, Anne Marie Gillen, Grand Central Art Center and KCET; Marnie Burke de Guzman, Bay Area Producer; Charles Otte, Production Designer; Greg Cotten, Arjun Prakash, Director of Photography; Eric Liljestrand, Sound Designer; and Christina Wright, Costume Designer.