Luminous Thread “Gears Up” with Full-Length Original Steampunk Opera
New Opera-Theater Company presents Debut of Steampunk Show, “Queen Victoria’s Floating Garden of Secrets and Natural Wonders” in Boulder and Denver
Denver, Colorado, March 30, 2013 – If sexy and scantily-clad mermaid sirens can’t persuade us to redirect our climate-changing ways, it’s hard to think of what can. Fans of rollicking spectacle, riotous off-color farce and beautiful classical singing will want to steam your airships over to a new “Steampunk” opera debuting in Colorado this Spring. Queen Victoria’s Floating Garden of Secrets and Natural Wonders debuts in Boulder on April 27. The show moves to Denver the next weekend.
“We’re admittedly a beautiful cast. A very sexy show,” notes show creator/composer Mary Lin, who also served as designer, “and it never lets up — it’s full of surprises. A hypnotic minimalist aria sung by Margaret Ozaki (soprano) rolls right into Mozartean mistaken-identity farce, Queen Victoria’s stately aria à la Handel (sung by mezzo Marlena Moore), and sword-fighting pirates in petticoats.”
“Our goal is to bend the edges of opera and to create something a little different, with a focus on theatre. Our singers are experiencing the stuff of spoken-theatre production that isn’t usually included in opera, a new level of coaching such as table work to make the drama gritty and realistic. It works for this show, which is in the singspiel tradition along with Mozart’s Magic Flute and Weill’s Threepenny Opera,” explained co-composer Ben Sargent.
The show’s design is extraordinarily detailed, with dozens of elaborate props and set pieces, a deliberately hand-made feeling that’s in keeping with the DIY makerism of the Steampunk movement. Scenes overflow with inventive gizmos and it’s clear that many hundreds of hours have gone into creating them. Notable are the giant luminous, pulsing deep-sea creatures and huge mechanical sail-wings that actually flap.
In addition to being highly entertaining, the production boasts a collection of “firsts”: the first-ever fully staged production of an opera in the steampunk literary genre, featuring an original story, libretto, and music by Denver area residents Mary Lin and Ben Sargent. It’s also the first ever (that the composers know of) full production of a climate-change opera.
The multicultural and very diverse cast ranges in age from early 20s to mid 70s, and from early-career to seasoned global opera professional in the person of Thomas Poole. Sarah Zwick-Tapley, noted world-class director trained at Harvard through American Repertory Theatre, acts as advisor for the production. Daniel Mullens, Music Director and accompanist, is a young opera coach/conductor whose improvisational flexibility at the piano has been a valuable asset to the creative process.
While the music would pass muster for any lover of operatic farce, the production itself is as much graphic novel as opera. It’s as if paragraphs torn from the manuscripts of the masters had been hand stitched together into a crazy design that’s more seamless than you’d imagine. Mozart, Kurt Weill, traditional Celtic tunes, sea shanties, Gilbert & Sullivan, Vaudeville, Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, Charles Darwin and Jules Verne, and a Victorian book of etiquette each add their calico patterns to the final quilt that you can’t tear your eyes (or ears) away from, all the way from opening scene to the surprise ending.
Showtimes and tickets ($20):
- Saturday 7:30 PM, April 27, 2013 at Pine Street Church in Boulder
Tickets and map: queenvictoriasteampunk2.eventbrite.com
- Friday 7:30 PM, May 3, 2013 at The Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder
Tickets and map: http://www.thedairy.org/events/2013-05
- Sunday 7:30 PM, May 5, 2013 at Su Teatro in Denver
Tickets and map: queenvictoriasteampunk4.eventbrite.com
In this dystopian alternative future, Queen Victoria II is on her way to inspect H.M.S. Annelid, a scientific sailing ship that resembles Charles Darwin’s H.M.S. Beagle and Jules Verne’s Nautilus. When the Dread Pirate Scott’s airship crashes due “climate strange and global storming,” he’s taken on board the Annelid where he discovers a ghastly plot to dissect a group of recently captured mermaids as subjects of science.
Interpretation of ancient languages, climate treaty negotiations, a pirate in a petticoat, a mutiny of wayward lasses held captive as near-slaves in this floating reformatory. Frank discussions of anatomy – and etiquette – are all in a day’s work in service to the Queen. Disguises and mistaken identities abound in this hilarious homage to Mozart and Gilbert & Sullivan.
About Luminous Thread (luminousthread.com)
Luminous Thread creates original theatrical works based in operatic tradition and contemporary idiom. Influences include classical and world music, circus arts, sketch comedy, bouffon, butoh, German Expressionism, vaudeville, classical ballet, contemporary and world dance, visual design, sculpture, costume, light design, and more. Photos from past productions are at https://www.facebook.com/LuminousThread/photos_stream
About Inventing Earth (inventingearth.org)
Inventing Earth began operations in 2010 with the intention of expanding human understanding of creativity to include both art and science, the transmission of historical and novel creative practices across generations and between cultures; and development of tools and methods for cross-discipline collaborations. The federally recognized 501c3 organization encourages the development of cultural and artistic processes that support and promote new ideas that will accelerate the development of a sustainable, and truly diverse new world.
- The production is a collaboration between nonprofit 501(c)3 Inventing Earth, an arts organization with a focus on mentoring and creative projects, and for-profit Luminous Thread
- Cast and tech team includes performers from NYU and some of the best opera prep programs in the country, in a mostly local cast chosen in a rigorous process beginning July 2012
- a costume from the show won First Place at the 2012 Denver County Fair
- This is the second full opera for Lin-Sargent team and their sixth show, having created several in Arizona and Boston before moving to Denver in 2012
- It’s Impossible to list or point out all of cultural references, visual, literary, and musical, in this clever and layered satire
- Steampunk can be defined as a literary movement that’s more or less Victorian science fiction. Imagine Jules Verne’s vision of the future with a dash of punk iconoclasm
Luminous Thread Productions