RAVENS & RADISHES
A fairytale operatic song cycle
— a five movement operatic song cycle composed by George Heathco, setting the re-imagined fairytale poetry of soprano, Misha Penton.
The witch's granddaughter comes for a wintery garden visit, Rapunzel is locked in the tower…Little Red Hood, lost in the forest, is relentlessly stalked by a She-Wolf...Snow White's stepmother muses in her mirror....Seven brothers are turned to Ravens and only their little sister can save them...And the Firebird, encountered on a wooded trail, flies free...
Misha Penton, soprano, concept, lyrics, director, producer
George Heathco, composer and electric guitar
Meg Brooker, dancer and choreographer
Daniel Saenz, cello
Music video and digital EP release concert (April 27, 2014), private house salon premiere (July 21, 2013), and performances at Sam Houston State University (September 10, 2014), and Texas A&M College Station (September 17, 2014); 2013-14.
MUSIC VIDEO stills
I think I met George on Twitter. No kidding. And yes, we live in the same city, but as it goes, Houston is like that. In the fall of 2011, we launched our first collaboration: I’m artistic director of Divergence Vocal Theater, and George created some deliciously brooding, etherial and atmospheric live sound design for a Divergence autumn soiree of vocal music, dance, and monologues. The following spring, I approached him again about embarking on this collaboration, with a vague idea of wanting to do a song cycle based on my poetry that explored new versions of traditional fairytales. So, off we went!
In George’s hands, ravens & radishes emerged as an exciting operatic fairytale song cycle. He evocatively and exquisitely set my text with sinewy, lace-like weavings of cello, electric guitar, and voice. It's a wild ride to sing: from whispery-nesses to dramatic high notes. My words are new, twisty, renditions of some favorite Brothers Grimm tales (and one Slavic folktale), with a definite nod or two to Anne Sexton, Angela Carter, A.S. Byatt, and other female revisionists, including inspiration from the 17th century French conteuses. I add my words to a long line of women retelling these tales, and the fascination is unwavering over the centuries. For those of you familiar with my collaborative work, welcome back, and I am deeply grateful you are here to share this evening with us. And for our delightful newbies, I’m big on allowing the experience to unfold without linearity nor narrative. Enjoy the ride! — Misha
Rapunzel is locked in the tower, the witch's granddaughter comes for a wintery visit...Little Red Hood, lost in the forest, is relentlessly stalked by a She-Wolf...Snow White's stepmother muses in her mirror....Seven brothers are turned to birds and only their little sister can save them...And the firebird, encountered on a wooded trail, flies free...