Past Shows

Angel’s Bone

Artist’s Praise

An appallingly good work…Ms. Du and her brilliant librettist, Royce Vavrek, refuse to moralize…Ms. Du’s music obeys only her own omnivorous tastes and assured dramatic instincts.
— Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, The New York Times

Savage and uncompromising…the score is a genre stew in which operatic and pop singing, faux-Renaissance polyphony that slides into dissonance, jazz riffs and electronic howls are deftly welded into a lean, propulsive dramatic arc that leaves the listener shocked and drained.
— Heidi Waleson, Wall Street Journal

The sonic and visual landscape in front of you are deliciously intangible.
— Dani Lencioni, CultureBot

The years of incubation are evident. Angel’s Bone is a fully realized vision. Spare yet complex, the work is a wholly original parable on the danger of greed. Angel’s Bone is a mature and complex work. It is a fable inside an allegory and its soundscape ranges across the history of Western music.
— Natalie Axton, Hyperallergic

Devastating…Disturbing, powerful and original, effectively using electronics and video, the opera ended with the evil wife tearfully pleading her case on daytime TV, adding the final nail of credibility to a work that gave me nightmares, yet one that I would nonetheless see again.
— Anne Midgette, The New York Times

Most striking of all is Du Yun's score, which negotiates between, on the one hand, the ancient realm of the divine, and on the other, the crass and vulgar modern world…A powerful score in a top­notch presentation.
— Daniel Stephen Johnson, Musical America

Mezzo-soprano Abigail Fischer vividly portrays the tumult in the role of Mrs. X.E. who devolves from boredom to ravenous desire to bellicose vindictiveness.
— Shaun Tandon, Agence France-Presse

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About the Show

World Premiere

Angel’s Bone is a new work of opera-theatre that follows the plight of two angels whose nostalgia for earthly delights has, mysteriously, brought them back to our world. They are found battered and bruised from their long journey by a man and his wife. Mr. and Mrs. X.E. set out to nurse the wounded angels back to health: they bathe them, wash the dirt from their nails…then lock them in a room and decide to exploit these magical beings for wealth and personal gains. Angel’s Bone melds chamber music, theatre, punk rock, opera, cabaret, and electronics, exploring the dark effects and motivations behind modern-day slavery and the trafficking industry.

Music by Du Yun
Libretto by Royce Vavrek
Music Direction by Julian Wachner
Directed by Michael McQuilken

Scenic Design by Matt Saunders
Lighting Design by Yi Zhao
Costume Design by Kate Fry
Projections Designer Hannah Wasileski
Choregrapher Christy Lee
Stage Manager Catherine Costanzo
Production Manager Karen Walcott, James Fry
Line Producer Katie Naka
Sound Engineer Jay Eigenmann
Assistant Stage Manager Cressa Amundsen
Assistant Conductor Samuel McCoy
Rehearsal Pianist/Vocal Coach Mila Henry
Assistant Director/Supertitles Anne Cecelia Haney

Mrs. X.E. – Abigail Fischer
Mr. X.E. – Kyle Pfortmiller
Girl Angel – Jennifer Charles
Boy Angel – Kyle Bielfield

Featuring the Choir of Trinity Wall Street and NOVUS NY

Additional Credits:
Choir of Trinity Wall Street: Eric Brenner, Tomas Cruz, Clifton Massey, Thomas McCargar, Scott Mello, Molly Netter, Timothy Parsons, Melanie Russell, Jonathan Woody

Novus NY: Thomas Bergeron (Trumpet), Stuart Breczinski (Oboe), Adam Cockerham (Lute), David Cossin (Percussion), Anna Elashvili (Violin), Catherine Rose Gregory (Flute), Stephanie Griffin (Viola), Chris Gross (Cello), Moran Katz (Clarinet), Ian Rosenbaum (Percussion), Ben Vokits (Tuba)

Video Engineer Jonathan Brenner
Master Electrician Justin Nardecchia
Set Construction Jackie Denise Young
Costume Construction Julia Bowers, Karen Boyer, Anjia Jalac, Marea Judilla
Music Librarian Harrison Joyce

At 3LD Art & Technology Center


Originally commissioned by the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia

Completion co-commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects and HERE

Co-produced by Beth Morrison Projects, HERE, and Trinity Wall Street

Co-presented with 3LD Art & Technology Center

Show run time: 80 minutes

Opening Night Benefit for PROTOTYPE | $150 ($125 Benefit Party Only)
January 6, 2016, 8:30PM – 10:30PM
Following the 7pm performance of Angel's Bone at
3LD Art & Technology Center - 80 Greenwich Street, NYC
Join us for hors d'oeuvres, cocktails, and special performances by exciting and revered baritone Nathan Gunn, the indie dream pop/art rock band Elysian Fields, and the hot, spunky five-piece band Bombay Rickey.

Post-Performance Conversation will follow the January 13 show. 

Artist Bio

Du Yun born and raised in Shanghai, China, currently based in NYC; Du Yun is a composer, multi-instrumentalist and performance artist. Her music exists at an artistic crossroads of orchestral, chamber music, theatre, opera, orchestral, cabaret, storytelling, pop music, visual arts and noise.

Hailed by The New York Times as “cutting-edge… to whom the term ‘young composer’ could hardly do justice”. Known as “protean” and “chameleonic”, the National Public Radio has recently voted her as one of 100 composers under 40. Selected commissions include from the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, the American Composer Orchestra, the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Fromm Foundation, Meet the Composer/Commissioning USA, Chamber Music America, Festivals für Neue Musik & aktuelle Kultur (Switzerland), violinist Hillary Hahn, cellist Matt Haimovitz, Trinity Wall Street, Festival of New Trumpet, Ecstatic Music Festival, 21c Liederabend, the San Francisco Contemporary Chamber Players, Americas Society, and many more.

Her music has also been presented by Festival d’Avignon (France), Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ (Netherlands), the Nova Musica of Helinski, Ultima Contemporary Music (Norway), the Darmstadt Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik (Germany), Festival Internacional Cervantino (Mexico), Canadian Music Week, Nova Scotia Festival, Centro Nacional De la Música (Argentina), the Radio Kamer Filharmonie of The Netherlands, le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne of Canada, the Camerata Aberta of Brazil, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the New York City Opera – VOX, cellist Frances-Marie Uitti, among others. Other grants include Aaron Copland Award, Rockefellor Foundation – Bellagio, and Festival Aix-en-Provence.

As an avid performer, she has appeared in many assorted holes and halls, across New York, nationally and abroad. Her onstage persona has been described by The New York Times as “an indie pop diva with an avant-garde edge,” and “flamboyant” by The Chicago Tribune.

Her classical compositions can be heard on labels such as Shanghai Classical Music, ATMA Classique, Oxingale, and New Focus. An alumna of Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Oberlin College (BM), Harvard University (MA, PHD), Du Yun is currently on the faculty of SUNY-Purchase.

Royce Vavrek is an Alberta-born, Brooklyn-based librettist and lyricist known for his standing as “a favorite collaborator of the postclassical set” (Time Out New York) and as “an exemplary creator of operatic prose” (The New York Times). His work has been called “sharp, crisp, witty” (See magazine), “taut” (The New Yorker), “meticulous” (Operavore, WQXR Radio), “full-throated” (Culture POP), “dramatically wild” and “exhilarating” (The New York Times). Collaborations with David T. Little include Am I Born for the Brooklyn Philharmonic and Brooklyn Youth Chorus; Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera for Bard Conservatory; Last Nightfall for the 21c Liederabend, Op. 2; and archaeology, commissioned and recorded for the OPERA America Songbook. They are currently commissioned by Fort Worth Opera and American Lyric Theater to create an opera exploring John F. Kennedy’s final hours, to be premiered in 2016.

His collaboration with composer Missy Mazzoli yielded the opera Song from the Uproar, which was presented at The Kitchen in 2012, in a Beth Morrison Projects’ production about which The New York Times said, “you felt the joy, risk and limitless potential of free spirits unbound.” They are currently developing an opera based on Lars von Trier’s film Breaking the Waves, having premiered the first aria at the 21c Liederabend, Op. 3 as part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival. Upcoming projects include 27 with Ricky Ian Gordon for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Angel’s Bone with Du Yun for the PROTOTYPE Festival, Midwestern Gothic with Josh Schmidt for Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, and The Wild Beast of the Bungalow with Rachel Peters to be developed through the Center for Contemporary Opera. He is co-artistic director of The Coterie, an opera-theater company founded with soprano Lauren Worsham. He holds a B.F.A. in filmmaking and creative writing from Concordia University in Montreal and an M.F.A. in musical theater writing from NYU. He is an alumnus of American Lyric Theater’s Composer Librettist Development Program.

Artist Statement

Angel’s Bone was created out of the desire to marry the spiritual with the profane. It is a piece that explores the psychology of the abuser, and seeks to understand the impulse to cross over into morally reprehensible territories. Our story drops in on the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. X.E., he a failed man of business, and she a younger, beautiful woman who married him with the hope of a life of luxury. Mrs. X.E. now blames her husband for dragging her into a life of mediocrity. It is only when a pair of fallen angels crashes down into their backyard garden, does the wife see possibility: the angels are their salvation. While Mr. X.E. believes that they could be celebrated as curiosities, Mrs. X.E. has more sinister plans… they will sell pockets of private time with the angels, their neighbors paying exorbitant fees to have their way with the angels.  She controls the money and the rewards, while he plays the middleman. When a crisis of conscience befalls Mr. X.E., he kills himself in an attempt to help the angels escape, freeing the two captive creatures.  Mrs. X.E. becomes famous, suggesting that she was the true victim of her husband’s abuses.  

-Royce Vavrek, librettist