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Lost in the Woods, a One-Act Opera

With a libretto using nature writings from Henry David Thoreau’s journal, spoken by commissioning ensemble, the Akros Percussion Collective, and Thoreau’s political writings, sung by celebrated soprano Stacey Mastrian, this opera celebrates the life and continued relevance of Henry David Thoreau, composed in 2017, the bicentennial of his birth.

With nature texts selected in Venice, that most unnatural of places, built on water where land was never meant to be, and political texts selected during a Wurlitzer residency in the pristine natural setting of Taos, NM, a well-known source of inspiration for artists, this opera plays with reversals of many types: “mother nature” spoken by male voices, the vehement and radical opinions of Thoreau regarding slavery and the American government, always and still led by male presidents, sung by a woman. Nature and culture, male and female, self versus collective, reversals abound as Thoreau’s political voice is sung by a woman and Thoreau’s observations of the natural world are recited by men.

Including staging and video by past Wind Challenge artist Hee Sook Kim, recorded in both New Mexico as well as some of the places where Thoreau lived and worked (Walden Pond, Cape Cod, the Maine woods), Lost in the Woods is a contemporary re-visioning of one of the 19th century’s most radical authors and naturalists, intentionally combining the idealism and realism of Thoreau, who wrote in a time of societal conflict that compares well, and with similar negative and positive resonances, with our own.

This event is free and no registration is required. Lost in the Woods is sponsored by Haverford College and the American Composers Alliance.