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Margaret Dolinsky
Associate Professor of Fine Arts and Research Scientist

Last modified: Monday, October 5, 2009

New technologies take opera to next level in experimental performance

Annunciation + Visitation debuts at Buskirk Chumley Theater, Oct. 9-10, 2009

Oct. 5, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- What happens when a digital artist, an opera director, and a music ensemble decide to put on a show? One result is Annunciation + Visitation, a unique musical performance exploring two vastly different expressions of female sexuality.


"Annunciation," by Margaret Dolinsky

A combination of art and advanced technologies, Annunciation + Visitation: Operatic projections of her sexual insight stretches the boundaries of what defines "opera." The show's collaborators and co-directors are Margaret Dolinsky, associate professor of fine arts and a research scientist in information technology at Indiana University Bloomington; IU graduate Timothy Nelson, the award-winning artistic director of the American Opera Theater (and a guest director of IU's Summer Opera Workshop); and faculty and students from the IU Jacobs School of Music.

Annunciation + Visitation will be presented in two free performances at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater in Bloomington, Ind., on Oct. 9 and 10. Vocalists Rebecca Duren and Emily Noel will appear.

"Each of the show's halves reflects how vastly different genres and styles can combine, contrast, and complement each other to elicit new and deeper meaning," says Dolinsky, who is currently a fellow in the Institute for Digital Arts and Humanities at IU Bloomington. "These new methods for combining art and technology offer a glimpse at the innovative future of opera."

In "Annunciation," the show's first half, female sexuality is explored through the experience of childbearing. This part of the work uses originally unrelated compositions by American composer George Crumb, plus the poetry of Walt Whitman and Frederico Garcia Lorca, along with singers who interact with video projections.

David Dzubay, director and conductor of the New Music Ensemble at the IU Jacobs School of Music, will perform George Crumb's Ancient Voices of Children, a cycle of songs based on texts by Lorca. IU keyboardist Bethany Pietroniro will play Crumb's Apparition, songs based on texts from Whitman.

The production's second half, "Visitation," explores a darker side of female sexuality: sexual violence, victimization, and recovery. The music for this half comes from Francois Couperin, combined with imagery projections created by the performers in real-time.

"The art is created and driven by physical gesture and bodily interaction," Dolinsky says. "Imagery and sound are tightly coupled in this show -- think of soap bubbles that are ricocheting about, interacting visually, aurally, and physically."

The final component of the production is a panel discussion following the second performance on the topic of how opera can be a relevant force for social change in contemporary America, particularly through combination with new technologies. Audience members will be encouraged to participate in the discussion.

Support for Annunciation + Visitation came from the IU New Frontiers in Arts and Humanities program, the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Humanities Institute, the Pervasive Technology Institute Advanced Visualization Lab, the IU Jacobs School of Music, the Hope School of Fine Arts at IU Bloomington, IU's Institute for the Digital Arts and Humanities, the Fundacion Bilbao Arte Fundazioa in Bilbao, Spain, and the American Opera Theater.

For more information on the performance, see the link to Annunciation + Visitation: