Mathew Rosenblum's multi-media opera RedDust will be premiered May 18-20 at the Andy Warhol Museum as part of the Fusion Festival, a collaboration between Attack Theatre and Opera Theater of Pittsburgh.
Peter Kope, Kristin McClintock-LeBeau and Jeff Davis of Attack Theatre dance to Mathew Rosenblum's music in front of Kurt Ralske's video scribbles.
RedDust has intersecting narratives from the experimental writings of Gertrude Stein, Serbian writer Svetislav Basara, Ts’ao Hsüeh-ch’in’s “The Story of the Stone,” a 1934 NBC radio interview with Gertrude Stein, and dream literature from Barthelme, Lu Xan, and others. This multi-media music drama includes singers, musicians, dancers, the choreography of Attack Theatre, spoken and sung words with acoustic and electronic instruments, surround-sound audio, and real-time video.
RedDust is focused through the perspective of the central character, a Chinese author, Shi-yin. Shi-yin is caught in a crisis of conscience and is unable to write: he had an affair with a young girl that ended in her suicide. He tries repeatedly to exorcise his feelings of guilt and confusion, and rediscover his creative impulse, by writing the story of a stone that comes to life as a young boy. The boy-stone is taken on a journey of discovery by the Taoist Fairy of Disenchantment. The mysterious Fairy of Disenchantment resembles the American author Gertrude Stein, The boy is led by the Fairy through life-defining experiences, confronts the inaccessibility of the future, the gulf between words and meaning, and the illusion of love, learning a lesson of detachment that helps author Shi-yin confront his own demons and set pen to page once more.
Rosenblum’s original inspiration for RedDust was the work of Gertrude Stein. The idea was not simply to set Stein’s words but rather to reflect her philosophy of theater and opera as “sight and sound in relation to emotion and time, rather than story and action.” Fragmented narrative threads are therefore the foundation of the piece. The surround-sound audio is pre-recorded and processed text and computer generated sound. Scattered instrumental groups are also panned live through the surround speakers. The video is designed as a live and interactive performance. Video improviser and collaborator Kurt Ralske – who has worked with the Merce Cunningham company and others – designed the software (in the Nato.0+55 language) for real-time improvisation that reacts to live and pre-recorded music, and the live action on stage.