La MaMa Galleria is proud to present ERA OF GOOD FEELINGS, a new opera from Dirty Churches. Pulling from the depths of their collective imaginations, Dirty Churches has conjured an ethereal world composed of magical genies, witches, shape-shifting cockroaches, and exterminators, led by a tipsy narrator.
The libretto unfolds with two desperate characters both dealing with hardships in their lives. There is a tipsy street theater narrator (written by Daniel Garcia and played by Samantha Lore) who weaves through life’s worries with a balance of drunken introspection and sarcastic humor. While the other character, a dramatic soprano (written and performed by Heather Green) takes a journey through life’s mysteries to find her inner truth. Interspersed throughout their contrasting quests are mesmerizing dance sequences performed by Alexandra Jacob, co-choreographed by her partner Constantine Alexis.
Jesse Gelaznik combines electronic textures with his unique score for soprano, flute, sax, violin and cello with the hypnotic tones of H. Leon Harris’s multiple autoharps and 4 track samples. Combined they articulate a vivid and surreal live soundtrack to the situations surrounding our protagonists. Rachel Blackwell has created living sculptures, which creep under a looming mix of existential terror and freak show whimsy. An absurdist spectacle of music, dance and experimental theater, EAR OF GOOD FEELINGS extracts and distorts the drama of traditional operatic archetypes, ruminating on how we may challenge these classic tropes.
Alexandra Jacob, Witch and Cockroach
Rachel Blackwell, Death’s Head
Samantha Lore, Tipsy Narrator
Pablo Narvaez, Magical Genie and Exterminator
Jesse Gelaznik, conductor and synthesizer
Heather Green, soprano
H. Leon Harris, autoharp, 4 track and synthesizer
Annie Levey-Alluazen, flute
Brianne Lugo, violin
Eric Allen, cello
Matt Moon, tenor saxophone
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Jesse Gelaznik (Composer)
Dirty Churches founder and composer Jesse Gelaznik specializes in film soundtracks, as well as music for art performances and dance. He has been nominated for best score by the American Independent Film Awards for his work on the feature film H., which screened at Sundance, MoMA and the Berlin International Film Festival. Daniel Garcia and Rania Attieh also recently used his music in the feature film Initials S.G., which premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. Gelaznik’s collaborative project with Daniel Garcia, PWR&$$$, received a commission from the Sharjah Art Foundation for their Biennial X and was displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Jesse also performed alto guitar in Glenn Branca’s 13th Symphony Hallucination City.
Rachel Blackwell (Art director and costumes)
Rachel Blackwell creates, constructs and performs as the creatures that inhabit Dirty Churches. The collaboration began when Gelaznik organized a live score to play during a screening for Blackwell’s video Meditations on Death. Both became interested in expanding the spectacle, and Rachel decided to introduce a performance element. She has shown independently and in collaboration at White Box, the 92Y Tribeca, Theater Lab, The Chelsea Hotel and many other galleries, festivals, clubs, theaters and music venues.
Heather Green (Soprano and librettist)
Vocalist and dramatic artist Heather Green is deeply grateful to be a part of Dirty Churches' Era of Good Feelings. Green's operatic credits include: Salome, (Salome); Senta, (Der fliegende Holländer), Sieglinde, (Die Walküre), Minnie, (La Fanciulla del West), and Lady MacBeth in Verdi’s MacBeth. Green also loves collaborating with composers who are still alive, including Gene Pritsker: “Splice” at Sowieso Neuköln, in Berlin; Luis Andrei Cobo: “It’s About Time,” with Cal Arte Ensemble and the Composers Concordance; Patricia Burgess: Yeshe, Queen of Tibet in Boudanath, Nepal; Yoav Gal: Mosheh, (as Bitia) and 3weeks, (as Aspasianus); and Thomas Carlo Bo’s Shadows of the City, (as Lizzie). Green is also an avid writer, holding degrees from Pratt Institute of Art and Design and The Swedish Institute of Health Sciences.
Daniel Garcia (librettist)
Daniel Garcia is a filmmaker based in NYC. He makes his films with his long time co-conspirator, Rania Attieh, and together they have written, directed, and produced four feature films to date, are winners of the “Someone to Watch Award” at the 2015 Independent Spirit Awards, and are 2014 Guggenheim Fellows and 2012 U.S. Rockefeller Fellows in film. Their films have screened in many prestigious museums and film festivals around the world including Venice, Berlin and Sundance. Their latest feature was filmed in Argentina and world premiered in the U.S. Narrative Competition at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.
Alexandra Jacob and Constantine Alexis (Choreography and dance)
Alexandra Jacob and Constantine Alexis came together from very different backgrounds to explore new forms of expression in ballet movement. Alexandra spent 10 years dancing lead and principal roles with the Dance Theatre of Harlem in New York City. She especially relished the deeper technical aspects of traditional ballet movement, but yearned to combine this with her personal aesthetic interests tied more closely to the music and style of 70s/80s goth and post-punk scenes. She found common ground with Constantine Alexis, a musician raised in the 90s indie punk scene who also has a background as a pole dancing instructor. Together they are attempting to create movement that is both highly technical (and true the the deeper nature of ballet), while also explored new aesthetic domains. Constantine and Alexandra are both very excited to be working with Dirty Churches to create dark and light rituals together.
Samantha Lore (Narrator and movement)
Sam is a dancer/performer based out of Brooklyn. Since graduating from Mason Gross School of the Arts in 2017, she has worked with companies and artists such as Shen Wei Dance Arts, Carte Blanche Performance, and Gallim under the direction of Andrea Miller.
La MaMa Galleria
Founded in 1984, La Galleria is a nonprofit gallery committed to nurturing experimentation in the visual arts. La Galleria encourages an active dialogue between new media, performance, the plastic and visual arts, curatorial projects, and educational initiatives. It serves the East Village community by offering diverse programming to an inter-generational audience, and expanding the parameters of a traditional gallery space. As a non-profit, La Galleria is able to provide artists and curators with unique exhibition opportunities that are largely out of reach in a commercial gallery setting.