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Backwards from Winter

Monodrama for Soprano, Electric Cello, Computer Sound and Video
by
Douglas Knehans (music) and Juanita Rockwell (libretto)

The story

 

Backwards from Winter is an hour long operatic monodrama exploring a single woman’s reflection on a love relationship as seen through various elemental filters of seasons, color, nature, emotion and memory and told through live voice, live electronic/computer music and multiple video streams.

She traces the past year with her beloved, moving backwards through time: from deep winter where she is in grief over his death, to autumn, where she experiences the sharp pain of losing him in a storm, through the summer’s heat of their passion, to the heart-opening birth of their love in spring.

Just as our conventional experience of linear time can be disrupted by deep grief or joy, this operatic work destabilizes theatrical conventions of narrative, character, psychology, conflict, language and setting as it explores impermanence, loss and love. 

 

 

Douglas Knehans
composer

With a gift for extravagant color, beautiful melodic style, and engaging, soulfully dramatic work, the music of award winning composer Douglas Knehans has gained attention around the world. Knehans’ two-piano work cascade has been hailed by Fanfare Magazine as “... effective ... incisive ... hauntingly beautiful ...” A disc of his early music for acoustic and electric cello was released on Ablaze Records in the fall of 2010 and was called “amazingly sophisticated ... very beautiful ... intriguing ... captivating ...” by Audiophile Audition.

Douglas Knehans has received awards from the American Music Center, the NEA, the Australia Council Performing Arts Board, Yale University, the MacDowell Colony, Opera Australia, The Cannes Film Festival, Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, The National Symphony Orchestra, The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Meet the Composer and a host of others. His works have been broadcast on ABC Radio and Television (Australia); NPR and PBS (USA); RAI Radio and Television (Italy); and HTKY, the National Television Broadcaster in Ukraine.

Douglas Knehans received his initial music education at the Australian National University. He has received scholarships and awards from Queens College, CUNY where he gained his M.A. in composition with Distinguished Professor and renowned composer Thea Musgrave, receiving the first Luigi Dallapiccola Composition Award (1991) for outstanding achievement in music composition. In 1991 Knehans entered the Doctoral program at Yale University where he studied with Pulitzer Prize winning composer Jacob Druckman, graduating with the Woods Chandler Memorial Prize (1993) for best composition in a larger form.

Knehans has been chair of Composition at the University of Alabama School of Music; was Professor of Music and Director of the University of Tasmania Conservatorium of Music between 2000-2008; and Dean of the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) at the University of Cincinnati from 2008-2010. He is currently the Norman Dinerstein Professor of Composition Scholar at CCM.

Juanita Rockwell
Librettist

Juanita Rockwell is a writer and director specializing in the development of new work at such venues and companies as The Ontological, Mabou Mines/Suite, Culture Project, Blue Heron, Bushwick Starr, Access Theatre (NYC); Theatre of the First Amendment, Source, Atlas, DCAC, Everyman, Theatre Project, Single Carrot, Iron Crow, AcmeCorporation, UnSaddest Factory, Bell Foundry (DC/Balto); Gas & Electric Arts (Phila); Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford Arts Center, Jorgenson Theatre, Ashford Barn (CT); City Theatre, Black Sheep Festival (P’burgh); Teatro Municipão (São Paolo); Teatro Abya Yala (San José, CR); RS9 (Budapest); and broadcast on NPR. Produced writing for performance includes The World is Round (libretto and direction for opera, composer James Sellars), Waterwalk* (libretto for gamelan opera, composer Robert Macht); Cave in the Sky (script and direction for puppets/multimedia); Lunar Pantoum* (text for dance-theatre); The Circle (script for alternative art audiowalk); Upstream (script for radioplay); Across the Void, Packing/Pecking, Language Monkey, Quantum Soup* (short plays); Playing Dead* (translation from Presnyakovs w/Yury Urnov); Between Trains, What’s a Little Death* (plays with songs, composer Chas Marsh).

As Artistic Director of Hartford’s Company One for six years, Juanita directed early premieres for stage and radio. In 1994 she became the founding artistic director of Towson University’s experimental MFA in Theatre, directing the program for a dozen years. She continues to teach in the grad program at Towson, as well as in the MA/MFA in Creative Writing at Wilkes University, also consulting on its development.

Past project support includes NEA, TCG, ITI, MD State Arts Council; and as writer-in-residence for the Ko Festival, the O’Neill Center’s National Theatre Institute, and the Visual Playwriting Conference at Gallaudet. Juanita is a Fulbright Scholar as well as member of the Society of Directors and Choreographers and the Dramatists Guild.

Constantine Koukias

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Mise en scène

Constantine Koukias is a Greek-Tasmanian composer & opera director based in Amsterdam. His avant-garde approach to the presentation of opera has resulted in hybrid productions such as Days and Nights with Christ, To Traverse Water, MIKROVION (Small Life - 36 Images in a Phantom Flux of Life), The Divine Kiss, Tesla - Lightning in His Hand and most recently The Barbarians, inspired by Constantine Cavafy’s famous poem Waiting for the Barbarians, commissioned by the Museum of Old & New Art. 

His works range from large-scale music theatre & opera to mobile installation art events.
In 1993 he was commissioned by the Sydney Opera House Trust to compose ICON, a large-scale music theatre piece to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Sydney Opera House. Music theatre works include Kimisis – Falling Asleep, Borders, Orfeo, Rapture - Sonic Taxi Performance, Schwa – The Neutral Vowel, Antigone and The Da Ponte Project.  His work Prayer Bells, which draws on traditions of Latin, Hebrew and Byzantine chant, had its USA premiere at the Chicago Cultural Centre.

In 2004 he was awarded a Sir Winston Churchill Fellowship. His Incantation II for soprano and digital delay won the International Valentino Bucchi Vocal Prize in Rome in 1997. Koukias has been the recipient of numerous international commissions and awards. His design credits include the internationally acclaimed Odyssey and Medea. 

In 2014/15 , Kimisis – Falling Asleep, a chamber opera for Soprano & Electric Trombone, Splendor Amsterdam and Karavaan Festival. Before the Flames Goes out Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Musée du Judaïsme Paris, Jüdisches Museum Berlin, The Boy Who Fell Out of The Sky for Ondes Martentot & Orchestra & Shaped by Trees A Film opera by Biasino Pezzimenti.

 

MARIJJE VAN STRALEN

 
 

soprano

The Dutch soprano Marijje van Stralen is successful in an unparalleled repertoire of compelling operas by Lully and Purcell to new works by leading composers Jonathan Dove, Louis Andriessen, Richard Rijnvos and Philippe Boesmans. In the Saturday Matinee was Marijje Rays include soloist in the world premiere of Legend of Peter-Jan Wagemans conducted by Jaap van Zweden and conducted by Frans Bruggen in the opera Les Indes Galantes, Rameau. 

She sang in the opera Reigen of Bushmen with various performances in the Netherlands and Paris. Marijje sang in the opera After Life by Michel van der Aa (Melbourne festival) Marijje was further told, among other things in the title role of Mandolino Ron Ford with the ensemble of the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, at the NedPhO in the role of Frasquita (Carmen) Kreizberg and conducted by the BBC Ulster Orchestra Dances by Louis Andriessen. In Robeco summer concerts in the operas of Mozart, Bastien und Bastienne (Bastienne) and Der Schauspieldirektor (M.Silberklang), with the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gerard Korsten and the Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jan -Willem Friend.

Website: https://marijjevanstralen.nl/

 
 
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Chris JackSOn—Actor (AustraliaN Performances)

Chris holds a Bachelor of Contemporary Arts, Master of Contemporary Arts and is currently undertaking his Master of Fine Arts at the University of Tasmania. He has worked in various capacities across the theatre and performance sector including: Directing, Acting, Performance Art, Production, and Design – where his work has seen local, state, national and international stages.

Some highlights include: Actor Dancing Back Home (JUTE/Mudlark Theatre Inc.); Performer – Borders (Ihos Opera/JUNCTION Arts Festival); Assistant Director Barbarians (Ihos Opera/MONA FOMA); Actor Savages (Persona Collective/ JUNCTION Arts Festival); Performer Artaud Defacteau (OzFrank Theatre Matrix); Vision Designer Relax The Chimp (TasDance/JUNCTION Arts Festival); Composer/Sound Designer I Am A Lake (Mudlark Theatre) for which he received Best Design - Professional Theatre at the 2017 Tasmanian Theatre Awards. And with Encore earning two nominations in the Community Theatre section (Best Performance in a Leading Role, and Best Design). Most recently in 2017, Chris performed at MTC’s Southbank Theatre in Islamophilia, Dark MOFO on the installation work PANOPTICON, and in Encore Theatre’s Blood Brothers for which he received another Tasmanian Theatre Award nomination.

Chris worked extensively with Mudlark Theatre as one of the core creative team until recently leaving to focus on his research and other creative work. He is a founding member of Persona Collective, and with his partner Grace Roberts launched their own company IO Performance in early 2017.

Chris is an Associate Lecturer, Production Manager and Theatre Technical Officer at the School of Creative Arts whilst continuing to be an active part of the rich Tasmanian cultural sector.

 
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Neils Gomperts—ACTOR
(Netherlands Performances)

Gomperts made is debut with the television VTWG (Much Time Small Money). This he made ith two friends commissioned by Villa Achterwerk. Gomperts presented the program, the friends did the camera work, sound and editing. In 13 episodes they showed what they can do for fun with little money. In 2010 he was featured in the film Shocking Blue by Mark de Cloe, earning him a Golden Calf Nomination yielded for Best Supporting Actor. The award went to his nose over to actor Jeroen Willems, who played his father at that moment in a film by the Belgian director Christophe Van Rompaey.

After the success of the first season of Penoza where Gomperts Lucien Walraven played the son of Monic Hendrickx, he is also seen in the second, third and fourth season of this series. His filmography includes; 2015 - Parnassus (film) – Volkert, 2015 - Snow White and the seven little men – Prince, 2012 - Rue des Invalides (short film) – Nathan, 2011 - Lena – Daan, 2010 - Shocking Blue – Jaques

For Television; 2015 - Tessa - Rico Blom, 2015 - The Seven Seas - fallen in episode 8, 2014 - Amsterdam - EVA - Fellow student Tobias, 2013 - Aaf (afl 1.9.) - Koos2013 - 't Schaep in Mokum (afl 1.7.) - Kees Keizer (cracker), 2012 - Godforsaken - Dennis Brouwer (AFL Bitch fight.), 2011 - Days of grass (short film), 2011 - Godforsaken - Steven (AFL under duress.), 2010 - Hidden Stories – Sjoerd, 2010 - Penoza - Lucien Walraven, 2008 - VTWG (Much Time Small Money) - Presentation.

 

Antonis Pratsinakis

Photo credit: Till Schmitz

Photo credit: Till Schmitz

 
 

Electric Cello
(Australian & Netherlands Performances)

Antonis Pratsinakis is a cellist based in Amsterdam. The past years he has focused on creating performances, including dance, video, acting, and culinary disciplines. He has also participated in numerous music and music theater productions with Kameroperahuis, Ergon Ensemble, Veenfabriek, Atlas Ensemble, Sonnevanck, Toneelgroep Amsterdam, and Korzo Theater. Highlights of these productions include performing solo cello in P.M. Davies Vesalii Icones (for solo dancer, solo cello, and ensemble) and the 2017 tour as composer and live performer with choreographer Jasper van Luijk creating the dance performance “The Nonsense Society”.

He has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in Greece, Germany, Holland, Austria, Bulgaria, Belgium, Italy, Turkey, and Serbia, where he received excellent reviews for his playing. An active chamber music player, he has recorded with the Infinity Piano Trio for the National Radio of Bulgaria. Recently he is working on producing his own music with e-cello as well as acoustic cello. 

He studied in Thessaloniki with R. Dragnev and completed his Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Amsterdam with D. Ferschtman and J. den Herder, supported by scholarships from the Greek State Scholarships Foundation and Scholingsfonds. 

For more information visit: www.antonispratsinakis.com

 
 

production Team

Our talented production team will bring to vivid life the unique vision of Knehans/Rockwell's BACKWARDS FROM WINTER

 
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cazerine barry
Projection design
(AUSTRALIA)

Cazerine Barry is an artist who has worked in many areas of performance, direction and media. In the past 20 year’s her work has been presented nationally along with Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo, Jakarta, Mexico City, Beijing, Paris, Christchurch, Taranaki, Glasgow and Monaco.

She is the recipient of the 2000 New Media Fellowship and Eva Czajor Memorial Award; other awards include an Asialink Residency in Taiwan, a Highly commended Australian Cinematography Award and a cultural exchange award from the Australian Indonesian Institute. Her short films have been purchased by SBS and BBC television. She has created media for performance with Australian companies Vitalstatistix, Playbox, Back to Back, Terrapin Theatre, Cirque, Flying Fruit Fly Circus, Black Hole Theatre and Arena Theatre Company.

Recent commissions include Parteitag composed by Brett Dean for the Concertgebouw Orchestra & Holland Festival, the song cycle A Thousand Doors A Thousand Windows & The Legend of Ned Kelly for Terrapin Theatre composed by Constantine Koukias and SQUARE composed by Euphonia for North Arts.

She has collaborated with David Chisholm on the digital pantomime SPRUNG, Insurgency for Melbourne University Union Theatre and the development phases of opera noir Dr. Couteau and musical theatre work Revival. She has recently presented excerpts of Olegas for IHOS Opera while completing her degree in early education. Since that time, she has produced visual media for the musical theatre development Carnegie 18 at the Arts Centre and worked on a solo project through the assistance of Creative Victoria.

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Ivan Paitre
Associate Designer (AustraliA)

Ivan Paitre was born in France and is currently based Amsterdam. Over the years he has lived and worked in major cities all over the world: Montreal, Miami, Paris, London and São Paulo to name but a few.

Ivan is at home in a variety of genres, from sound and film production to site-specific décor and costume design, and is employed for projects both in the world of modern pop/opera/theatre and for commercial events. 

His early training was focussed on the music industry.  From 2003 to 2005, he was mentored by multiplatinum producer/songwriter and Grammy winner Rudy Perez, in Miami Beach.

In 2008, after gaining much experience in the USA and France, he oversaw the live Sound Engineering production for Le Caveaux des oubliettes in Paris. In France too, he added lighting design to his skill set, discovering Cymatic light VJ installations of vibrating water.

Recent film projects include Werzerkering, Relivation by Wouter Springer, Ray van der Bas and Starring Pamela Anders - and Biljestdag (Day of Reckoning) by Gideon van Eeden & Ray van der Bas starring John Leddy, and Wendy Riksen.

He was the assistant producer on numerous editions of Inner Voyage by Ballet Bernasconi based in San Francisco.  

Ivan is involved with the Amsterdam-based Kuza Studios – a creative agency aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development goals, working with companies and foundations to create immersive digital media and powerful events to drive Corporate Social Responsibility.

He is currently working with director Konstantin Koukias as the associate designer for Douglas Knehans and Juanita Rockwell’s chamber opera Backwards From Winter, on tour in 2018.

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Mik Lavage
Surveillance design & Projection operator

Mik Lavage is an Australian Sound & Vision designer, composer and musician. Working on stage and screen, Mik has been nominated for AFI awards (screen) and worked on shows nominated for the Helpmann Awards (stage).

Mik has collaborated with a broad range of artists and companies; from the ancient Greek leanings of IHOS opera to the acrobatic worlds of The Tom Tom Crew, Company @ & Strange Fruit, performing worldwide, including Melbourne, Munich, Montreal, Detroit, Paris & Taipei to name a few. He currently tours globally with The Orkestra of the Underground, Company 2, IHOS, Hermitude and Toni Childs working as Designer of Sound, musical performer and designer of interactive Visual Elements.

Mik is also a graduate of AFTRS (Australian Film, Television & Radio School) in music composition for film, and has produced numerous albums as a solo artist as well as with Toni Childs. His music has been featured in many dance, theatre and film productions that range from political documentary to feature film.

 
 
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Jason James
Lighting Design (Australia)

Lighting and Projection Designer Jason has worked as a lighting and projection designer for over twelve years, creating designs principally for new works. His recent credits include Red Racing Hood, Big Baby, Pip and Pooch, Shadow Dreams, Sleeping Horses Lie, and Love, for Terrapin Puppet Theatre; Born from Animals, Branch Book Bench, The Company I Keep, If I jumped I’d Fly for the Tasmanian Theatre Company; Motel Dreaming, and Galla Placidia for Dark MOFO; Echo, The Barbarians, and Kimisis for IHOS Opera; Tell Tails Bridget Bridge, Abandoned Dances, Episodes, Birds Mature Age Dance Ensemble; Wild at Heart, Motel Dreaming for Unconscious Collective. Spiegeltent for Ten Days on the Island 2015 and Fall, Winter, Spring for Second Echo Ensemble.  

Jason has been developing a broader arts practice around light over the last seven years. He is currently studying Visual Arts at the Tasmanian College of the Arts, and has had artworks presented in festivals around Tasmania. The two most recent were Angry Electrons, a solo show in Dark MOFO 2015, and Crevasse, which was a part of envelop(e) curated by Matt Warren, a co-presentation between Contemporary Arts Tasmania and Dark MOFO.

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Greg Gurr
Sound Design

 

Greg began his interest in audio at 16 while still at school in Tasmania. Through his career he has worked as acoustic jazz and contemporary music concert engineer, a film and video sound recordist and designer/ engineer in a variety of theatre performance. Some of the highlights of Greg's career have included engineering the sound for Roy Orbison, Don Burrows, Ivan Rebroff, The Angels, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee and touring with international acts 10CC, ELO and The Stranglers. Greg was also sound recordist on Words and Silk, an award winning documentary on author, Gerald Murnane.

Greg's first IHOS production was Days and Nights with Christ in 1997. Since then he has designed and operated the sound for productions of IHOS Opera including the small music theatre works Kimisis - Falling Asleep, Kitchen Table Rondo and Prayer Bells and large format productions The Divine Kiss, Sea Chant, Tesla – Lightning in His Hand and The Barbarians for the Museum of Old & New Art. 

He also designed the works for the IHOS Music Theatre Laboratory including: Spirits of the Hoist, Schwa - the Neutral Vowel, As if Electronically Controlled, Touch Wood and Antigone.

With his retirement from ABC TV Greg has focused on other interests such as photography, 3D recording and plane wave technology in Audio Design.