Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch’s Accuser
First Episodic Made-for-TV & Online Opera
Composed & Conceived by Lisa Bielawa
Directed by Charles Otte | Libretto by Erik Ehn
Developed as a Grand Central Art Center artist-in-residence project
“an opera unlike any you have seen before, in content and in form” – Los Angeles Times
Read the Los Angeles Times’s feature on Vireo
Read the San Francisco Chronicle’s feature on Vireo
All Twelve Episodes Also Available Now for Binge-Watching at KCET.org/Vireo
Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch’s Accuser, composed and conceived by Lisa Bielawa on a libretto by Erik Ehn and directed by Charles Otte, will be released as a double package on DVD and CD by Orange Mountain Music on February 28, 2019. The music is now available exclusively from Apple Music. Vireo is an opera in 12 episodes, created for television and online viewing. It was first broadcast on KCET’s Emmy® award-winning arts and culture series Artbound in June 2017. Both Bielawa and Otte were nominated for 2018 Los Angeles Area Emmys, and the opera won the 2015 ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Multimedia Award. Vireo Live, a hybrid film-opera experience, is currently in development and will be workshopped in March 2020 at The New School’s Philip Glass Institute, of which Lisa Bielawa was recently named inaugural Composer-in-Residence and Chief Curator.
Vireo removes the set limitations of a staged opera, visiting locations across the country – Alcatraz Prison, a monastery on the Hudson River, an abandoned train station in Oakland, the California Redwoods. An orchestra in the pit is replaced with world-class musicians on camera, inside the action. The eponymous heroine Vireo, played by Rowen Sabala, is a fourteen-year-old girl genius entangled in the historic obsession with female visionaries, as witch-hunters, early psychiatrists, and modern artists have defined them.
Vireo was shot on location from New York’s Hudson River Valley to California’s Redwood forests. Production began in February 2015 in the Los Angeles area at Santa Ana’s Yost Theatre and proceeded through January of 2017 in iconic locations around the country, including the 16th Street Oakland Train Station and San Francisco’s Alcatraz Island.
Vireo features the work of over 350 musicians including opera star Deborah Voigt, violinists Jennifer Koh and Vijay Gupta, cellist Joshua Roman, mezzo-sopranos Laurie Rubin, Maria Lazarova and Kirsten Sollek, baritone Gregory Purnhagen, tenor Ryan Glover, drummer Matthias Bossi, soprano Emma MacKenzie and in the title role of Vireo, teenage soprano Rowen Sabala. Additionally, the opera features notable groups and organizations from across the country including Kronos Quartet, the San Francisco Girls Chorus, Magik*Magik Orchestra, American Contemporary Music Ensemble, Alarm Will Sound, PARTCH, the Orange County School of the Arts Middle School Choir, and many, many more.
Vireo was an Artist Residency Project of Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana, a unit of Cal State Fullerton’s College of the Arts shepherded by Director and Chief Curator John Spiak, produced in partnership with KCET and Single Cel.
A comprehensive Vireo online content hub is available at kcet.org/vireo, providing viewers of Vireo an immersive second screen experience. Featuring interviews with cast and crew, behind-the-scenes content and exclusive insights into the themes of the production, the online hub, and social media video content is also available on the @KCET28 and @LinkTV Facebook page. To learn more, please visit kcet.org/vireo or linktv.org/vireo or on social media use #OperaVireo
For a complete list of VIREO performers, see https://www.operavireo.org/