The Garden is part two of the operatic triptych “The Rewilding Cycle”, the premise of which is that our efforts to control the natural world is what destroys it, and us. Western civilization attempts to control nature in order to utilize it. This objectification often looks “beautiful”, manicured, pristine, but it hides suffering, darkness, and oppression. The Garden investigates the attempts of this white-supremacist/colonizer culture’s desire to beautify/manage/control nature (including people) and reveals the horror that ensues when it does.
The Wastelands asks the question: how do you find hope when faced with the despair of social oppression and environmental devastation? The Garden asks the question: With hope in hand, what is it that we must confront in order to liberate our world and our hearts? Part three, The Wild (based on Dante’s Paradiso to be composed after 2020), will close the triptych by exploring what is possible with liberated, diversified, autonomous, and self-willed inner and outer landscapes. Thus, The Garden is the critical connecting piece between The Wastelands and The Wild.
The Garden will be a surrealist opera. It will be an intensely physical piece incorporating aerial silks, trapeze, acrobatics, ritual, and a unique method of physical training and devising, sourced from Double Edge Theatre. The Garden’s libretto will be made of arranged excerpts of the original Italian text from Dante’s Inferno. The music itself will branch into new styles. Using accordion, violin, guitar, contrabass, and hurdy-gurdy, the opera will be acoustic-metal with experimental vocals.
You cannot escape from The Garden by denying its existence. This is true on an environmental level, a societal level, and a personal level. We dam a river, it floods worse the next year. We deny institutional racism, implicit racism runs rampant. We refuse to acknowledge our inner demons, they resurface to sabotage our intentions.
The only way to conquer our fears is to face them. The only way out of hell is through it.
Many thanks to the American Composers’ Forum for commissioning The Garden. The hurdy gurdy purchase and subsequent compositions for The Garden are made possible by a grant from the American Composers Forum with funds provided by the Jerome Foundation. This hurdy gurdy was made by George Leverett of Altarwind Hurdy Gurdies!