White Snake Projects
Activist Opera Announces 2023-34 Season
By: Snake - Jun 07, 2023
Celebrated for creating diverse, timely and relevant opera, activist opera company White Snake Projects (WSP) and its founder Cerise Lim Jacobs today announced its 2023-24 season comprising all original operatic works including two fully-staged operas, a quartet of holiday operas as part of its annual Let’s Celebrate! series, and two WSP’s community engagement showcases: Sing Out Strong and Show Out Boston!. WSP’s commitment to being an activist opera company extends well beyond the creation of operas with challenging themes. Jacobs’s vision is not only to promote discussion and give a platform to underrepresented voices, but also to create an ecosystem to benefit the entire art form, from developing new technologies and new audiences to cultivating rising librettists and composers.
Kickstarting the season is the company’s return to Boston’s Emerson Paramount Theater with MONKEY: A Kung Fu Puppet Parable. This family-friendly, transmedia opera melds two of WSP’s favorite passions: myth and technology. With music by Mexican-American composer Jorge Sosa and libretto by Jacobs, MONKEY tells the great Chinese quest saga, “Journey to the West,” with the help of life-sized Bunraku puppets and the latest computer-generated imagery, including 3D CGI animations and avatars. The season culminates with Opera Through the Looking Glass series presenting a new critical satire of Don Giovanni. Following its sold-out run in 2022, this popular series returns to reconceive a traditional operatic piece to better ensure its relevance with today’s diverse audiences.
WSP rings in the holiday season with its second installment of Let’s Celebrate!, a festive series comprising four 20-minute operas written by emerging contemporary composers that explore and celebrate living holiday traditions in America. The program presents stories that more closely mirror the demographics of the company’s community: Kali Puja (a celebration of the Hindu goddess of death and rebirth, Kali), Eid al-Fitr (the breaking of the fast at Ramadan), Puerto Rico’s coqui frogs, as well as a multicultural family’s Thanksgiving traditions.
Sing Out Strong: Emancipated Voices invites audiences to enjoy their neighbors’ voices and original songs. This year WSP commissions local community members to write and sing original text on the meaning of voting. “There is seldom a stronger civic tradition in America than filling out a ballot,” says creator and librettist Cerise Lim Jacobs. “With 2024 being an election year, we are providing a timely platform for everyone to express what voting means to them.” As part of WSP’s dynamic youth arts community engagement program, Show Out Boston! is a community jam providing a stage for Boston’s youth arts organizations to unite, collaborate, and share art created and performed by young people.
White Snake Projects’ 2023-24 programming is supported by a generous grant from the Mellon Foundation. The National Endowment for the Arts, the Mass Cultural Council, the Boston Cultural Council, Reopen Creative Boston Fund, administered by the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture and the Ditson Fund.
About White Snake Projects
White Snake Projects (WSP) is an activist opera company making mission-driven work that unites artmaking with civic practice. It envisions a world where the power of opera expands our collective understanding of community and transforms lives through creative storytelling. The company’s most recent efforts have been devoted to the live digital productions of the Pandemic Trilogy: Alice in the Pandemic addressed the disproportionate strain of COVID-19 on communities of color and essential workers; Death by Life explored long-term incarceration and institutionalized racism; and A Survivor’s Odyssey dealt with the ongoing crisis of sexual and intimate partner violence. A critical element in the exploration of these themes is the establishment of authentic connections with thought leaders in social justice to ensure that the company’s creative work lives in an ecosystem of activism. WSP sees opera not just as performance, but as performance with purpose, a vibrant and vital art form that is also a champion of change. WhiteSnakeProjects.org
White Snake Projects 2023-24 Season
(subject to change)
MONKEY: A Kung Fu Puppet Parable
Friday-Sunday September 22-24, 2023
Emerson’s Paramount Theater, 559 Washington Street, Boston, MA
Tix: Tickets go on sale July 2023.
Composer: Jorge Sosa
Creator + Librettist: Cerise Lim Jacobs
Singers: countertenor Chuanyuan Liu (Monkey), tenor Yi Li (Monk), bass John Paul Huckle (Zhu), soprano Carami Hilaire (Mara), soprano Cristina Maria Castro (Guan Yin), mezzo-soprano Maria Lopez (Sha), members of Boston Children’s Chorus, and Lizzy Stant, Alexis Peart, David Rivera Bozon, Andrew Stack (chorus)
Puppeteers: Carlos José Torres López (Monkey puppeteer), Nathaniel Justiniano (Zhu puppeteer), Angela Guo (Sha puppeteer), Elliot Purcell (ensemble puppeteer), Lawrence Chan (puppeteer / Kung Fu soloist), Jasmine Chen (puppeteer / Kung Fu soloist)
Postponed due to the pandemic, this fully-staged production finally comes to life. MONKEY, A Kung Fu Puppet Parable, is a family-friendly transmedia opera combining Bunraku puppetry, computer generated images, and live opera. MONKEY is based on the Chinese quest saga, “Journey to the West,” rewritten to reflect contemporary issues from the multicultural mosaic of American life. Besides the two fundamental operatic elements of text and music, the three main characters - Monkey, Pig (Zhu), and Sandwoman (Sha) - are life sized Bunraku puppets. MONKEY delves into the world of computer-generated technology through the use of CGI environs and avatars. Live singers on stage will be the voices of the puppets and avatars.
Date + Location: December 2023 (details TBA)
“Let’s Celebrate!” is the second annual festive opera series that draws on diverse cultural traditions to supplement traditional holiday programming. Tailored to Boston’s beautiful and diverse community of artists and opera lovers, this season’s performances feature four 20-minute operas.
Kali Puja (Avik Sarkar) celebrating Kali, the Hindu goddess of death and rebirth
Jo Dooba So Paar (Omar Najmi) celebrating Eid al-Fitr (the breaking of the fast at Ramadan) My Little Coqui (Ivan E. Rodriguez) celebrating Puerto Rico’s coqui frogs
Tamale Dumpling (Stephanie Cho) celebrating a multicultural family’s Thanksgiving traditions
Sing Out Strong: Emancipated Voices
Date + Location: March 2024 (details TBA)
Sing Out Strong is in the vanguard of WSP’s mission, as it reaches out to the Boston and wider Massachusetts communities to source stories of relevance to a theme. Past years’ themes included DeColonized Voices, Immigrant Voices, Incarcerated Voices, and more. Marking its seventh installment, this year’s theme of Emancipated Voices is in light of the Election of 2024: “What Does My Vote Mean?”. Throughout the year, composers from all over the world – as well as from diverse socio-economic, age, gender and racial backgrounds - are selected from a Call of Entries. A panel narrows the submissions and the selected composers choose the texts that most resonate with them. The original works are then performed by local singers and musicians in this dynamic showcase.
Show Out Boston!
Date + Location: April 2024 (details TBA)
Show Out Boston! celebrates the work of Boston’s youth arts organizations on a city-wide stage, opening collaborative channels among mission-aligned organizations by giving them a platform to showcase their artists. Past participants included Boston Arts Academy, Boston Children’s Chorus, Area 51, Boston Project, Transformative Culture Project, The Record Co, Zumix and more. The special one-day affair is a community jam unlike any other featuring visual art, music, dance, and more by the youngest members of Boston's community.
Opera Through the Looking Glass: Don Giovanni
Date + Location: May 2024 (details TBA)
Marking its second consecutive installment, WSP’s season-ending opera series reexamines canonical works with a contemporary critical lens. Commissioned and designed to be performed in non-traditional spaces, this year’s series brings another hilarious satire of an operatic canon. Composer Ryan Oldham and writers Liz Oldham Cerise Lim Jacobs reimagine Don Giovanni. By reexamining operas that have retained their currency despite worldviews and cultural stereotypes that are ill-fitting to the evolving multicultural understanding of the current world, WSP demonstrates its commitment to showcasing new work that is relevant to a diverse audience. The inaugural 2022 Opera Through the Looking Glass examined Mozart’s misogynistic opera Cosi fan tutte (trans. Women We Are Like That) by turning the tables on the men in the premiere of Cosi! Men Are Like That (2022).