MapFund

About the Grant

$15,000 to support Harlequinade: Never My Heart (MAP 2011), a collaboration between the Grammy Award–winning ensemble eighth blackbird, composer Amy Beth Kirsten, and choreographer and director Martha Clarke.

About the Project

The aim of Harlequinade: Never My Heart is to create a 40-minute chamber opera for the ensemble that deeply infuses the music with dramatic movement. The musicians will play characters in the opera by incorporating acting, vocalizations, mime, and choreography without the use of additional singers or actors.

The work, inspired by the tradition and characters of the commedia dell’arte, is a dark, original fairytale narrated by the sinister Harlequin who leads the cast through a story of faulty perception, mistaken identity, innocent longing, blind love, and an elusive murderer.

The libretto, assembled by the composer, will fuse into narrative texts from three sources: 14th–20th century poetry associated with commedia and harlequinade traditions, poetry conceived for this project by the composer, and the evocative work of modern-day Japanese poet Mariko Nagai.

The commedia tradition, which historically has used mime, music, speaking, and singing to tell a story, is rich with undiscovered possibilities for a collaboration of this caliber and skill. The characters of Harlequinade—especially Pierrot, Columbine, Harlequin, Clown, Claudio, Pulcinella, and Pantalone—are colorful and imaginative. Re-imagined in this new setting, these characters create a compelling dramatic vehicle flexible enough to enable experimentation and innovation.

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