Be a Doll: an Electroacoustic Toy Opera
When I received the email that OPERA America was awarding me a Discovery Grant to write my first opera, my knees buckled below me and a continuous wail of disbelieving joy emanated from me. The prior four months had been spent in the throes of application dedication and of all the opportunities I cast my net for, this grant was the one I wanted most but that I thought I had the least chance of receiving. I re-read that email five times to make sure it was real. With the generous support of OPERA America and the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, I will challenge the traditional notion of opera with electronic sound worlds, more toys than your local toy store, and the utmost in gratitude that my vision is resonating.
Read the official press release from OPERA America here.
Be a Doll is an electroacoustic toy opera for solo vocalist performing choreographed play routines on musical and nonmusical toys with live electronic processing and pre-programmed electronic sequences. The opera follows a woman struggling with her perfectionist and submissive conditioning in a world that commands her to “be a doll”. Living in a dollhouse filled with functioning toy versions of household items, she reluctantly carries out the traditional role of woman as pretty plaything and keeper of the home. Each of her daily play routines are a reinforcement of gender-based norms in an overwhelming cycle of adulthood mimicking childhood games that mimic adulthood. Far from the promised picture of perfection, an existential game of hide and seek emerges between her and her neuroses as repetitive thoughts, compulsive behaviors, and symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder surface and the distinction between woman and doll diminishes.
OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Female Composers program provides financial assistance to identify, support, and help develop the work of female composers writing for the operatic medium, raising their visibility and promoting awareness of their compositions to the field. Funding for this program is provided by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation Program for Commissioning Women in the Performing Arts.