bones of girls
music by Ryan Suleiman
libretto by Cristina Fríes
1425 24th St.
Sacramento, CA 95816
Friday, January 24th at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 25th at 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, January 25th at 7:30 p.m.
***Bones of Girls premiered January 24, presented at Clara Auditorium in Sacramento with split seating (similar to the round). Sacramento arts consortium Dwellpoint provided projections and the audience was invited to "Rogue Talk" immediately following he performance to converse with and ask questions of the creators and producers of the work.***
Composer, Ryan Suleiman has set an intriguing libretto by Cristina Fríes that is a surreal exploration of the eery, fairytale imagery of Donkey Skin by Charles Perrault (Cinderella) and the librettist’s own experiences as a young woman alone in Argentina surrounded by predatory men and roving packs of wild dogs.
In the opera, Bones of Girls, a lost princess called Idiot Girl has fallen from the sky into an unknown land, escaping the clutches of her abusive father only to be pursued by hungry dogs and ridiculed for it all by a dispassionate moon. As the girl wanders, searching, trying to recall who she is, the audience comes to understand that this is the rite so many young girls and women must endure: they are often hunted and must find a way to understand and perhaps define themselves through the breaking.
In the production, director Omari Tau has partnered with visual artist Claire Hurni to present the fable as ritual. With the help of young actor-puppeteers, soprano Carrie Hennessey sings the lost and fragile Idiot Girl to life as a disembodied narrator-goddess. The dogs on her trail are similarly portrayed by baritone/director Omari Tau, on the hunt with confusion, curiosity, madness, and insatiable hunger. Kevin Doherty also stars as The Moon.
Suleiman’s expansive music is juxtaposed against the chilling story to stunning effect, garnering the work national attention in its various phases of composition. RMP is proud to present this world premiere, fully staged production of Bones of Girls.
From the Director
“The ceremony of innocence is drowned.” - W. B. Yeats
My favorite opera is probably Benjamin Britten and Myfanwy Piper’s The Turn of the Screw (1954) after Henry James. The story of a nanny, two children, and two “ghosts” features that devastating line from the Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming.” It proved a much needed backdrop to my approach for Bones of Girls. How does one deal with childhood trauma and the betrayal of a parent, adult, or king? Sometimes, they mask it, hide it, until they can remember it and name it. Power and privilege came to a head when discussing this piece with librettist Cristina Fríes. Her own chilling story of feeling threatened by men as an adult mingled with the often misogynistic nature of fairytales left me with the dizzying notion that these two tales were somehow bound. In Turn, it is unclear if the ghosts are even real, and here in Bones, the Dogs and Moon may not be, but they certainly can represent the very real, misplaced confusion, anger, and twisted desires of predators. Likewise, it is often women and young girls left to deal with the devastation of it all. In my approach, the rite is required to work through the trauma. A chance for “Idiot Girl” not to be perpetually buried by it, but to at least momentarily name it and know what it was that changed her so.