Be a Doll // Electroacoustic Toy Opera
Composition, Libretto, & Sound Design by Alexa Dexa
A woman struggles 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 the distinctions between woman and doll diminish, repetitive and intrusive thoughts, compulsive behaviors, and symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder surface.
Be a Doll is composed for solo vocalist performing choreographed play routines on musical and nonmusical toys with pre-programmed electronic sequences and live electronic processing in MaxMSP.
The development of Be a Doll received funding from OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Female Composers program, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.
“A mezzo wearing an oversized bow in her hair kneels at the first ensemble of toys gathered on stage. She cuts an Alice in Wonderland figure as she plays the toy piano, layering the recorded loop with sounds subsequently created by a tiny multi-collided glockenspiel. The woman-child stops to apply lipstick and curls her eyelashes, while scribbled illustrations itch across the backdrop screen. The abstract soundscape is amplified to uncomfortable levels, underlining its creator’s messages about female conditioning.” – Claire Jackson, Opera Now Magazine