Created against the backdrop of a worldwide racial reckoning, a pandemic ravaging our prison population and the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, this stunning production celebrates Black artistry to convey a dream of justice, equity ... and breathing free. The Broad Stage is proud to introduce the trailblazing Heartbeat Opera to LA with this compelling work, which mingles exhilarating movement with excerpts from Beethoven’s Fidelio, Negro Spirituals and songs by Black composers and lyricists Harry T. Burleigh, Florence Price, Langston Hughes, Anthony Davis and Thulani Davis.
In 2018, Heartbeat Opera collaborated with 100 incarcerated singers in six prison choirs to create a contemporary American Fidelio told through the lens of Black Lives Matter. The daring adaptation pitted corruption against courage and hate against hope with imaginative staging. While we hoped to have presented this Fidelio in February 2021, we are grateful to the company for the gift of Breathing Free. We hope this introduction of Heartbeat resonates powerfully, and when it is safe to return to live performance we intend on bringing Fidelio to The Broad Stage for its West Coast Premiere.
Additional support for the creation of this work generously provided by The Broad Stage
The Breathing Free visual album runtime is 45 minutes, followed by a panel discussion.
ILLUMINATING PANEL DISCUSSIONS
Join fellow audience members for post-screening panel discussions with artists and advocates highlighting the work's themes relating to incarceration and restorative justice.
FEB 10: Stories of Transformation
Artists share about their creative and inspiring work with prison populations.
- Suchi Branfman, choreographer, curator, performer, educator - director Dancing Through Prison Walls, choreographer-in-residence at California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, faculty at Scripps College, prison abolitionist.
- Michael D. McCarty, LA-based multicultural storyteller, Black Panther alum; Arts in Corrections, Alliance for California Traditional Arts at Valley State Prison, Chowchilla and California City Correctional Facility, California City.
- Michael Powell (Blakk Sun), Artist and Former Member of KUJI Men’s Chorus, Marion Correctional Institution, Ohio
- Dr. Catherine Roma, Director of KUJI Men’s Chorus, Marion Correctional Institution, Ohio; UBUNTU Men’s Chorus, London Correctional Institution, Ohio; HOPE Thru Harmony Women’s Choir, Dayton Correctional, Ohio
Moderated by Ilaan Mazzini, Director of Education & Community Programs at The Broad Stage.
FEB 13: Advocates for Change
Local policy makers and educators discuss their work toward restorative justice.
- Kristin McCowan, newly elected Santa Monica City Council member; previous government service includes the Obama Administration and Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti.
- Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein, author of Democracy and Difference Through the Aesthetics of Film, Co-Director of Santa Monica College's Public Policy Institute, and a member of SMMUSD's Board of Education.
- Amir Whitaker, Policy Counsel with the ACLU of Southern California’s Educational Equity Project. His non-profit KnuckleHead Project serves to inspire vulnerable youth through education, music, and art programs.
IMMERSIVE VIEWING EXPERIENCE
Once you purchase your ticket, you will receive a confirmation email with a link taking you to the virtual lobby. At your scheduled show time, click the “Launch Stream” button in the virtual lobby to enter the performance webpage, where you will be able to watch the performance and Q&A via the livestream video player.
CREATIVE TEAMDirector: Ethan Heard
Filmmaker: Anaiis Cisco
Creative producer: Ras Dia
Co-Music Director and Arranger (Fidelio): Daniel Schlosberg
Co-Music Director: Jacob Ashworth
Movement Director: Emma Jaster
Director of Photography: Kathryn Boyd Batstone (Los Angeles)
1st AC/Gaffer: Celine Layous (Los Angeles)
Director of Photography: Jacob Mallin (New York & Chicago)
1st AC/Gaffer: Matt Iacono (New York & Chicago)
Associate Movement Director: Tamrin Goldberg
Arranger (Malcom X, Balm in Gilead) & Associate Music Director: Sean Mayes
Stage Manager: Jessica Emmanus
Assistant Director: Mar Cox
Sound Editor: Gleb Kanasevich
Sound Mixer: Sam Torres
Music Assistant, Orchestra Manager & Copyist: Mona Seyed-Bolorforosh
CASTDerrell Acon, bass-baritone
Curtis Bannister, tenor
Kelly Griffin, soprano
Randy Castillo, Tamrin Goldberg, Brian HallowDreamz Henry, dancers
Also featuring the voices of more than 100 incarcerated singers and 70 volunteers from six prison choirs: Oakdale Community Choir, KUJI Men’s Chorus, UBUNTU Men’s Chorus, HOPE Thru Harmony Women’s Choir, East Hill Singers and Voices of Hope
BANDJacob Ashworth, violin
Marika Hughes, cello
Miki Sasaki, trumpets
Kyra Sims, horn
Thomas Flippin, guitars
Britton-René Collins, percussion
Daniel Schlosberg, piano
Jason Thomas, piano
Prisoners Chorus features: Laura Weiner (horn), Nicolee Kuester (horn), Clare Monfredo (cello), Daniel Hass (cello), Euntaek Kim (piano) and Ben Cornavaca (percussion)
HEARTBEAT OPERAEthan Heard (Co-Artistic Director & Producer) and Louisa Proske (Co-Artistic Director) founded Heartbeat Opera in 2014, after they graduated from Yale School of Drama’s directing program, to create radical adaptations of classic operas in intimate spaces for 21st century audiences. “One of the most agile and dynamic companies on New York's indie opera scene” (Opera News), Heartbeat has already established itself as a highly-respected, innovative force in the opera world. In its first six seasons, Heartbeat has presented twelve fully-realized productions, often featuring new chamber arrangements and English translations. Heartbeat adaptations, which can be seen as world premieres of classics, speak to the moment, here and now. Fidelio featured a primarily-Black cast and more than 100 incarcerated singers from six prison choirs. Carmen was set on the U.S./Mexico border and featured accordion, electric guitar, and saxophone. This spring, Heartbeat took Lady M, its adaptation of Verdi’s Macbeth, online and sold out 32 Virtual Soirées, reaching 740 households across 5 continents. Heartbeat has taken its productions to the Kennedy Center, BAM, and Chamber Music North West in Portland, Oregon. It staged the first ever opera performance on The High Line and has mounted its immensely popular, interdisciplinary Halloween Drag Extravaganza each year since its founding, in iconic venues such as National Sawdust and Roulette.
Heartbeat has been hailed across the national and international press, including in three features in The New York Times, in stories on CNN and the BBC, and in an ALL ARTS/WNET documentary: “Bracing—icy vodka shots of opera instead of ladles of cream sauce” (New York Times), “elegant and boisterous” (New Yorker), “fascinating and gorgeous” (Observer), “ingenious” (Wall Street Journal), “gripping and entertaining” (Opernwelt), "a flatout triumph" (Opera News).
Heartbeat has collaborated with organizations such as Atlas DIY and A BroaderWay to bring opera education to young people in NYC.
- “Balm in Gilead” — traditional, arr. Sean Mayes
- “Lovely Dark and Lonely” — music by Harry T. Burleigh, words by Langston Hughes
- Malcolm’s aria from X (The Life and Times of Malcolm X) — music by Anthony Davis, libretto by Thulani Davis, story by Christopher Davis, arr. Sean Mayes
- “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” — traditional
- “Songs to the Dark Virgin” — music by Florence Price, words by Langston Hughes
- Excerpts from Fidelio — music by Ludwig van Beethoven, libretto by Joseph Sonnleithner & Georg Friedrich Treitschke, arr. Daniel Schlosberg
- “Abscheulicher!” (Leonore’s aria)
- “O welche Lust” (Prisoners Chorus)
- “Gott! Welch Dunkel hier!” (Florestan’s aria)
- “Euch werde Lohn” (Act II Trio)
What is a “theatrical-virtual song cycle”?
Featuring three singers, three dancers, eight instrumentalists, and a robust creative production team, Breathing Free is a visual album, consisting of nine songs, envisioned as interconnected music videos.
How long is it?
Each performance of Breathing Free includes live opening remarks (5m), an opera-film featuring nine interconnected music videos (45m), and a live panel discussion with special guests (30m) and Q&A.
Breathing Free is almost entirely new audio and video content. A handful of original company members of Heartbeat’s Fidelio join with dozens of new collaborators to create brand new music videos.
Is this Fidelio?
In 2018, Heartbeat created a contemporary American Fidelio told through the lens of Black Lives Matter. Breathing Free incorporates elements of that production, including our Prisoners Chorus music video featuring more than 100 incarcerated singers, and adds five new works by Black composers and lyricists.