Music by Philip Glass
Libretto By Rudolph Wurlitzer based on Franz Kafka
“...It's always risky interfering in other peoples' business... I oppose this procedure, but I will not intervene." - The Visitor, In The Penal Colony
A collaboration with CALREP Long Beach
Philip Glass about the opera
"What fascinates me in this story is the moral inversion that takes place. The Officer, having started as all-powerful, becomes the victim, and he takes on the role with a kind of joy. He's done everything he can to convince the Visitor of the virtue of the Machine, and, when he fails, he realizes it's over and the only The Visitor makes the right judgment, but we can't admire him because he does this by refusing to be engaged at all. He suffers no inconvenience, whereas we end up warming to the Officer more because he sacrifices everything for his principles.
Kafka, I think, is suggesting that the mere fact of our human incarnation is enough to make us guilty. One of the attractive things about the story for me as a composer is its formality. The Visitor gets away, but, by avoiding judgment, actually fails. The Officer, in a strange way, redeems himself. It's a perfectly calibrated outcome, like a trap for a hummingbird.
As for the music, I've restricted myself to a string quartet because that is the medium that in the West has always been associated with introspection and intimacy. I've added just one double bass to lend an extra gravity and darkness."
Kafka (1883 – 1924) was a German-language writer of novels and short stories, regarded by critics as one of the most influential authors of the 20th century. Kafka strongly influenced the genre of existentialism. Most of his works, such as Die Verwandlung ("The Metamorphosis"), Der Prozess ("The Trial"), and Das Schloss ("The Castle"), are filled with themes and archetypes of alienation, physical and psychological brutality, parent-child conflict, characters on a terrifying quest, labyrinths of bureaucracy, and mystical transformations. Kafka was born into a middle-class, German-speaking, Jewish family in Prague, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In his lifetime, most of the population of Prague spoke Czech, and the division between Czech- and German-speaking people was a tangible reality, as both groups were strengthening their national identities. The Jewish community often found itself in between the two sentiments, naturally raising questions about a place to which one belongs. Kafka himself was fluent in both languages, considering German his mother tongue. Kafka trained as a lawyer and, after completing his legal education, obtained employment with an insurance company. He began to write short stories in his spare time. For the rest of his life, he complained about the little time he had to devote to what he came to regard as his calling. He regretted having to devote so much attention to his "Brotberuf" ("day job", literally "bread job"). He also suffered conflict over being Jewish, feeling that it had little to do with him, although critics argue that it influenced his writing. In der Strafkolonie (In the Penal Colony) is a short story by Franz Kafka written in German in October 1914, revised in November 1918, and first published in October 1919.
Philip Glass - Composer
Philip Glass was born on January 31st, 1937 in Baltimore, Maryland. That was there where he began collecting records, including modern music and western classical music, from his father's record store. At the age of 15, Glass was accepted into an accelerated college program at the University of Chicago to study Mathematics and Philosophy. It was then that Glass discovered surrealism in Chicago. Later, he attended the Julliard School of Music where he studied keyboard and composition. Now a composer of operas and symphonies he has collaborated with artists Twyla Tharp, Allen Ginsberg, Woody Allen and David Bowie, among others. Along with his popular operas Einstein on the Beach, Satyagraha, Akhnaten, and The Voyage he has also composed for theater and motion pictures, those scores include The Hours, Kindun, and Koyaanisqatsi. Glass has said that his music has "immersed a listener in a sort of sonic weather that twists, turns, surrounds, develops". Considered one of the most influential music makers of the late 20th century, Glass has composed more than 25 operas, 8 symphonies, and two piano concertos.
Long Beach Opera presented the U.S. Premiere of The Perfect American in 2017, Hydrogen Jukebox in 2015, The Fall of the House of Usher in 2013, Aknathen in 2011, and The Sound of a Voice in 2006.
A high-ranking visitor arrives in the penal colony. He was invited there to witness the public execution of a prisoner by a strange machine invented by the former commandant of the colony. The machine slowly carves a description of the condemned man's crimes into his flesh and after hours of excruciating torture, kills him. The device is operated by the officer in charge of the prison who is utterly devoted to the machine and to the memory of the deceased commandant who invented it. The officer is disturbed by the machine's state of disrepair and the growing criticism of its use, including criticism from the island's current commandant. He hopes that the visitor will be impressed by the machine and will speak in favor of its "redemptive powers" to the commandant. When the officer realizes that the visitor will not actively support him, he frees the condemned prisoner from the machine and climbs onto it himself, seeking the redemption of a slow and painful death. The machine, however, goes haywire and instead of killing him slowly, kills him almost instantly by piercing his skull. It then self-destructs. The visitor boards a boat and leaves the island.
Doug Jones, tenor, is a frequent collaborator with LBO, having appeared in Semele, The Breasts of Tiresias, The Clever One, The Kaiser from Atlantis, MacBeth, and The Invention of Morel. He has performed extensively in Europe, including Covent Garden, Opera National de Paris, Salzburg Festival, Grand Theatre of Geneva, Netherlands Opera and the Bregenz Festival. Recent appearances include the Dancing Master in Ariadne auf Naxos with Austin Opera, the Witch in Hansel and Gretel with the Bar Harbor Music Festival, and featured cameo roles in the musicals The Addams Family (Pugsly) and Urinetown (McQueen) in Kansas City.
Zeffin Quinn Hollis
Zeffin Quinn Hollis has been heard as a principal artist with Dallas Opera, New York City Opera, Long Beach Opera, Chicago Opera Theatre, New Orleans Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Theatre of Pittsburg, Opera Delaware, Toledo Opera, Hungary’s Szeged & Pécs National Theaters, and the Lviv National Theatre (Ukraine). His signature operatic roles include Scarpia (Tosca), Escamillo (Carmen), and Jack Rance (La Fanciulla del West). Mr. Hollis is equally identifiable in the top echelon of new music. He has worked on premiers from composers Jake Heggie, Tobias Picker, Tarik O’Regan; and at NYC Opera’s famed VOX festival of new works.
This is Ariana Carter’s first Long Beach Opera and California Repertory Company performance. She has previously performed in Theatre Threshold productions of I and You and Mother Courage. She also had the chance to write and direct her own show, Complicated, under the same production company. Ariana will be graduating from California State University Long Beach with a degree in Theatre Arts - Performance this Spring.
Isidro Cortes was born in Lynwood, CA August 1996 but raised in Compton, CA, where he grew interest in the arts through music and a small exposure to theatre. Since graduating Compton High School, he has been focused on the arts and has worked in several projects amongst different fields exploring his interests in music, acting, film and his general search for knowledge. In his recent work, he has been featured in Polaroid Stories, he hashelp write Dreamers: Aquí y Allá (2018), composed the musical score for the 2018 California Repertory Production of Dreamers, participated in the documentary Out of the Shadows (2018) affiliated with the Dreamers production and has worked with playwrights in developing new content in the New Playwrights Festival.
Mayra De Leon
This is Mayra’s first production at California Repertory Company and her debut with Long Beach Opera. Her recent roles include; A Christmas Carol, A Musical Allegory and Quartet: 4 Short Plays by Samuel Beckett. Mayra De Leon transferred from Santa Monica College with an AA degree in Theatre Arts and Business Administration. She is currently in her third year and is studying Theatre Arts at California State University Long Beach. Mayra will be graduating with her undergraduate degree next spring in 2020.
Kimberly English is thrilled to be performing in In the Penal Colony, which is her first California Repertory Company production as well as her debut Long Beach Opera production. A second-year student at CSULB, she wishes to be a theatre major with an emphasis in performance and is currently pursuing a minor in entrepreneurship. Kimberly is from Monterey, California, and she is a proud twin sister to a Marine. Her notable roles include Elizabeth from The Crucible, Dotty from One Man, Two Guvnors, and Flo from Nice Fish.
Madison is a recent transfer to CSULB. She is a junior Theatre Major and is set to graduate next Spring. This is her first production with both CalRep and the Long Beach Opera, so she’s very excited for this opportunity. Outside of her collegiate education she's received training at the Upright Citizen's Brigade. Recent productions include Commodity on the Dell S'Arte as Honey Her, Man of La Mancha as Housekeeper, The Drowsy Chaperone as Kitty, and Singin’ In the Rain as Kathy Selden.
Limas is a first-year student studying at California State University, majoring in Theatre Arts. This will be his debut with both California Repertory Company and Long Beach Opera. He has been named a second-place winner at the 2017-2018 California Thespians Festival, in the category of group acting individual events, as well as placing as a finalist in The Music Center’s Spotlight competition in the acting category 2017-2018. He has most recently worked in CSULB Theatre Threshold’s production of Growing Up Gay directed by Keanu Regan and Shakespeare in the Vines’ production of Richard II directed by Wendi Johnson.
Mark Oliver is a fourth-year student and theatre major at CSULB. This is his debut performance with the Long Beach Opera. He has been in three California Repertory Company mainstage productions; We Are Proud to Present…, Dear Harvey, and In the Penal Colony will be his last production as he will be graduating this spring with his undergraduate degree. He is a US Army veteran that intends to go to the LA Film School to pursue his dreams of being a working actor and filmmaker.
Pizzini, originally from Michigan, moved to California in 1994, caught his first prison term in 1997, and 3 more after that. His parole was finally terminated for the last time in April 2013, at which time, he decided he'd had enough of being a knucklehead. He was accepted at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California for the 2014 Fall Semester, earning an Associate Degree (for transfer) in Theatre Arts, in the Summer of 2018. On October 3, 2018, Mr. Pizzini was admitted to the Spring 2019 Theatre Arts Performance BA program here at the California State University Long Beach.
Morgan Pimentel is making his Long Beach Opera debut with In the Penal Colony. He has been a part of 2 Threshold shows at CSULB, Out of Silence and Los Vendidos. Morgan was born August 6, 1994 in Orange, California. He was in and out of Foster care until he was finally adopted at age 5. He moved to Norwalk, California with his new family until age 15, where they finally settled in Temecula, California. Due to his unconventional upbringing he has developed his signature Mad Dog attitude and competitive nature, which he brings to every show he’s a part of. He is a junior at CSULB and is set to graduate Spring 2020.
Since 2003, Mitisek has been LBO's Artistic & General Director. Recent LBO directing credits: The Difficulty of Crossing a Field, King Gesar, Macbeth, Tell-Tale Heart, Van Gogh, The Paper Nautilus, Ainadamar, and Maria de Buenos Aires. Recent LBO conducting credits:Thérèse Raquin, I was Looking at the Ceiling and then I Saw the Sky, The Death of Klinghoffer, Camelia la Tejana, and The Fall of the House of Usher (co-production with COT). Other conducting credits: Joruri in Tokyo, Don Giovanni (Seattle Opera), Madama Butterfly (Orlando Opera), Jane Eyre (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis) and Eugene Onegin (Teatro Municipal in Santiago de Chile). Mitisek has also conducted the Austrian and Italian premieres of Nixon in China. From 2012-2017 Andreas served Chicago Opera Theater as Artistic & General Director.
Jeff Janisheski is Chair and Professor of Theatre Arts at California State University, Long Beach and is Artistic Director of Cal Rep. For Cal Rep he has directed Paula Cizmar’s Antigone X; and In the Penal Colony is his debut show with LBO. From 2012-2015 he was Head of Acting at Australia’s leading drama school, the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA). From 2008-2011 he was Artistic Director of the National Theater Institute at the Tony Award-winning Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Connecticut. From 2004-2008 he was Associate Artistic Director at New York’s Classic Stage Company. www.jeffjanisheski.com
Born in St.Petersburg, Russia. Graduated from St. Petersburg Theater Arts Academy, and worked as a resident designer at the Leningrad Theater for Young Spectators. Designed over 80 productions for various companies. Since 1989 he has worked in the US as a stage designer and professor. He has designed over 200 productions in the US and around the world including Chicago Lyric Opera, Opera Bielefeld, Opera Dessau, Opera Nantes, Pittsburgh Opera, Spoleto Festival USA, NYC Japan Society, Noise Within, Actors Gang, Pittsburgh Playhouse, Minneapolis Children Company, and ACT San Francisco. He currently teaches Set Design at CSULB.
Bob created sound design on LBO productions of Orpheus & Euridice (2008, 2010), Nixon in China, Akhnaten, The Difficulty of Crossing a Field, Maria de Buenos Aires (2012), Ainadamar, Camelia la Tejana, Queenie Pie, The Death of Klinghoffer, Marilyn Forever, Hydrogen Jukebox, Candide, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, The Fall Of The House Of Usher, The Invention of Morel, Frida, Fallujah, The Consul, Three Tales, and The Black Cat. He is Sound Manager for the acclaimed Long Beach Municipal Band. Also a composer, Bob has written and produced music for numerous programs on TLC, Discovery Channel, and PBS.
Bartenstein is a multi-disciplinary designer for theatre and live performance based in Los Angeles. Recent work includes:The Crucible (scenic design, Long Beach City College), She Kills Monsters (scenic design, CalState LA), The Year Without a Santana Claus (props, Troubadour Theatre Co), I Go Somewhere Else (video design, Playwrights' Arena), La Cenerentola (scenic design, Opera Las Vegas), Bloodletting (lighting design, Center Theatre Group and Playwrights' Arena), and Silent Sky (projection design, International City Theatre). www.lilybartenstein.com
She obtained her MFA in Lighting Design from the University of California at Irvine. Martha works in a wide array of theatrical entertainments including theme parks, live events, dance, theatre, and art installations. Recent credits include Romeo and Juliet at Great River Shakespeare Festival, The Why at The Blank Theater, The Chance Theater, Pygmalion at Long Beach Playhouse, and Marry me a Little at Theater Out. Martha enjoys collaborating with ensemble companies to create new work that addresses the current political and social issues of today to incite positive change within communities.
In The Penal Colony is Vee Delgado's first design for Long Beach Opera. Vee Delgado is a first year MFA student at CSULB studying Costume Design and Technology. She received her BA in Drama from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point in 2017. In the past she has worked for the Des Moines Metro Opera as an intern and costume tech staff.
Kyla “Jamie” Quinn is a third year theatre student at California State University of Long Beach. In the Penal Colony is her debut show with the Long Beach Opera Company, and she is very proud to work on the production. Kyla comes from an artistic family and has been studying various aspects of theatre since she was seven years old. She has designed for one college theatrical production before (Drunken City) and occasionally works on film sets.
Juliette has written three commissioned plays for Cornerstone Theater Company: Plumas Negras performed for and with the East Salinas farmworker community, Little Voice, about food and eating for teens, and Ghost Town performed for and with the Venice, CA community. A graduate of the Yale School of Drama, Juliette has directed critically-acclaimed productions across the country at theaters such as Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Seattle Repertory Theater, Arena Stage, Yale Repertory Theatre, and the Mark Taper Forum.
This activity is supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency. Learn more at www.arts.ca.gov
Supported in part by a grant from the Arts Council for Long Beach and the City of Long Beach.
Long Beach Opera events are supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission