PREVIEWING Missy Mazzoli’s Songs from the Uproar

isabelle-eberhardt-portraits“Here where footprints erase the graves a tranquil heart is mine. Here where footprints erase the graves these hours are no more than moments of light in this blanket of blazing stars” sings Isabelle Eberhardt, the central character and protagonist of Missy Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar: the lives and deaths of Isabelle Eberhardt.

She sings about the immensity and timelessness of the Algerian desert that harshly forged her mature persona and of her upbringing in the safety of a Swiss home. She sings of the vast expanse whereupon human footsteps are quickly obliterated by the endless shifting of sands: a desert where time stands still and hours go by like minutes.

It is the desert where Isabelle Eberhardt went to live and where she died an untimely death. Mazzoli’s work tells the story of Isabelle Eberhardt, one-of-a-kind Swiss-born explorer, world traveler, cross-dresser, Sufi Muslim.

It is futile to categorize this boundary-breaking piece of musical theatre. Let’s offer a salute to Ixi Chen’s concert:nova for her daring in programing this piece in Cincinnati under the aegis of the Cincinnati Opera.

Like much of the music and text of Mazzoli’s work, Song from the Uproar is defined by one’s visceral reaction to it. Mine, just having listened to a trailer and several excerpts prior to attending a full performance of this composer/poet is to encourage all those who can to go see it.

Song from the Uproar is now on stage on July 17, 18, 19, 21 7:30 the Aronoff’s “black box” space.

Rafael de Acha                                                                                                       All About the Arts

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