About the Grant

$32,000 to support Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch's Accuser, Final Episodes (MAP 2016)
$7,200 to general operating support for Grand Central Art Center

About the Project

Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch’s Accuser is a new opera composed by Lisa Bielawa on a libretto by Erik Ehn and directed by Charles Otte, unprecedented in that it is being created expressly for episodic release via broadcast and online media, in partnership with KCET's Artbound. Vireo is an artist residency project of Grand Central Art Center (GCAC) at California State University, Fullerton, Director/Chief Curator John Spiak.

Vireo is the winner of the 2015 ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Multimedia Award and is currently in production. In spring 2017 KCET will release all episodes of Vireo at once for free, on-demand streaming, which is a first for the network.

Vireo considers the nature and uses of female hysteria through time, as witch-hunters, early psychiatrists, and modern artists variously define the condition. Based on Bielawa’s own research at Yale as a Literature major, then freely adapted and re-imagined by librettist Ehn, Vireo is a composite history of the ways that teenage-girl visionaries’ behaviors have been manipulated, incorporated, and interpreted by the communities of men surrounding them throughout history, from the Dark Ages, Salem, Massachusetts, 19th-century France, the Surrealists in Paris, to contemporary performance art. Featuring arias for dying cows, infatuated students, and disembodied ageless women, the opera provides a thoughtful look at the universal issues of gender identity, perception, and reality.

Innovating opera not only through content but through form, Vireo allows greater access of opera to a broader audience through mainstream media and contemporary delivery systems.

Related Websites

Grand Central Art Center

Lisa Bielawa


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