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Hoods

  • Author(s): Chen, Carolyn
  • Advisor(s): Rosenberger, Katharina
  • et al.
Abstract

Hoods is a concert-length chamber opera based on Euripides' Hekabe and Little Red Riding Hood, parallel stories of women in extremis. Setting myth and fairytale in the context perpetual war, the opera explores themes of violence, gender, and metamorphosis. Three singers each play multiple roles from the alternating stories. Recordings of helicopters, animals, stomachs, and voices accompany live chamber music by an ensemble of flute/bass flute, clarinet, French horn, percussion, cello, and contrabass.

In Euripides' Hekabe, a queen and legendary mother of fifty children, loses all of them to war. The magnitude of her loss pushes her out of the realm of humanity, leading her to commit a horrific act of retributive violence. She lures her enemy's progeny into her tent, surrounding them with the other enslaved Trojan women. She blinds her enemy and kills all of his children. Then she is prophesized to turn into a dog with eyes of red fire. The woman, made bare, becomes a wolf. In Little Red Riding Hood, a wolf on the margins finds its way into the human world through stolen voices. Acquiring human voices - learning and recording first Red's and then Grandmother's - provides entrance to the household, and means to seduce and swallow the objects of mimicry. Then, from inside the stomach, girl and grandmother find their inner wolves and tear a way out.

Though one tale is set in a fantastical world, and the other against a backdrop of late empire and war-wrought havoc, both stories of loss and retribution hinge on moments of suspension in an interior space - the Wolf trying on identities in Grandmother's house, Red and Grandmother plotting in the wolf's stomach, and Hekabe in her tent with her enemy's family. The charge of these moments is the seed of the opera.

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