Combining the past and the present, or the classical and the contemporary, into an attractive presentation takes a fine finesse, whereupon a symbiotic relationship is not only forged, but creates a byproduct of something more. In this case, it is the historical import and prestige of opera that is united with modern-day inventiveness to yield a sensorially ethereal experience set trillions of miles away in outer space. There, in the celestial scope of things, the audience member becomes an active listener and discoverer.
To make this little miracle happen in Los Angeles, “The IGNITE @ the Ford!” series is collaborating with the LA Opera, as well as co-producers, Beth Morrison Projects and National Sawdust, to bring a one-of-a-kind spectacle of sight and sound, titled The Hubble Cantata, to the Ford Theatres on the evening of October 11th. It will mark the West Coast premiere of the production, which made its debut at the 2016 BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival.
Composed by Paola Prestini, with libretto by Royce Vavrek, and musical direction by Julian Wachner, The Hubble Cantata celebrates the interstellar junction between art, science, and technology. Joined by the LA Opera Orchestra, LA Opera Chorus, and the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, renowned baritone Nathan Gunn and soprano Jessica Rivera will star in a story not only based on the published works of the distinguished astrophysicist, Dr. Mario Livio, but also narrated by him.
As such, Vavrek’s artfully inspired story explores the heartbreak of a couple who have lost their child. This is tied into an allegorically transcendent message that extends far beyond our physical world and deep into the ether of the universe, where we observe the beginning and, oftentimes, inexplicable loss of life as symbolized by the genesis and death of a star (supernova).
The prospect of being able to journey through space and time, and to thus see outside of ourselves and our merely Earthly purpose, as afforded by a cosmic perspective, is carried out to fruition by the astounding technology on hand for this performance. This will be best represented via a five-minute virtual-reality film by Eliza McNitt called Fistful of Stars, which premiered at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival in 2016, and will be experienced at the conclusion of the cantata. Virtual-reality headsets provided by the FX firm, The Endless Collective, and bolstered by stereophonic sound, courtesy of the sound design company, Arup, will enable attendees to transport themselves to the breathtaking Orion Nebula. Aided by convincing photorealistic simulations and images from the Hubble Space Telescope, viewers will note a feeling of “floating” and gravitational pull within an immersive and panoramically resplendent experience that can’t be missed.
Even more impressive is that the virtual-reality odyssey of a Fistful of Stars will be activated by a downloadable app of the same name on users’ smart phones prior to “liftoff.” If one doesn’t own a smart phone, the film can still be viewed on the scrim that it is projected onto. In either case, an operatic ode to humanity, as well as our primordial origins as stardust within the greater expanse of the unknown, is in store for those who attend this otherworldly extravaganza on October 11th.
Though the show begins at 8:00 p.m., there will be a pre-show discussion at 7:30 p.m. with Dr. Livio and the curator of the Griffith Observatory, Dr. Laura Danly.
For more information, and to purchase tickets to “The Hubble Cantata” at the Ford Theatres, please visit: