Opera Philadelphia

Sibyl + Polia & Blastema

Friday, Sept. 30, 6:00 p.m.
Philadelphia Film Center
World Premiere
Part of Opera on Film
Part of Festival O22

South African artist William Kentridge has achieved a worldwide reputation with his powerful animation films, charcoal drawings, large-scale installations, and opera stage direction and designs. Sibyl is a 10-minute film conceived in 2020 as a companion piece to Work in Progress, the only stage work conceived by the U.S. sculptor Alexander Calder for Teatro dell'Opera in Rome in 1968. Inspired by the movement and by the rotation of Calder’s artworks, Kentridge evokes the priestess mentioned by Dante: The Cumean Sibyl, who used to write her prophecies for people’s destinies on oak leaves. The leaves at the mouth of her cave were scattered by the wind, confusing the destinies of those who came to fetch them. In the film, the contemporary Sibyl is portrayed as an African dancer, who dances against book pages to jazz music composed by Kyle Shepherd and vocal compositions by Nhlanhla Mahlangu.  

With thanks to Marian Goodman Gallery New York and William Kentridge for their support of this presentation of Sibyl. 

World Premiere: Polia & Blastema (2022) is the first foray into opera for American film director E. Elias Merhige (Shadow of the Vampire).  This sci-fi opera film is a gnostic creation myth told through a visual tapestry which journeys into immensely desolate hellscapes of the inorganic as organic folding back onto itself in ever spiraling, fractally superimposing cataclysms of wormhole network (be)longing.Aesthetically tempered by aspects of decay, rot, earth, and the meta-myth structure of human cognition, the multi-leveled world of Polia & Blastema is informed by the visual imagination of David Wexler, a celebrated visual artist who has been the mastermind behind the live performances of Flying Lotus, The Weeknd, and The Glitch Mob, among many other artists. It is also informed by Viennese Actionism as much as it is by Eugene Thacker’s notions of “the world without us,” of supernatural horror and dissolution, expressed in the separation and (re)union of two entities who in the end feast on one another in ritualistic ecstasy. Starring Nina McNeely and Jasmine Albuquerque and featuring vocalists Micaela Tobin and Sharon Chohi Kim, Polia & Blastema is a unique cinematic journey into the cosmic.  This screening will be followed by a talk with the artists, including director E. Elias Merhige and composer Gavin Gamboa.

MapPhiladelphia Film Center

Dates are in 2022.

Fri, Sep 30 6:00 p.m.

Approximately 50 minutes, followed by 30 minutes of conversation

Language: English

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