You do not recognize
the bodies in the water

A disappearance at a lake, a mysterious organization,

a woman accused of arson searching for the truth,

and at the center of it all, simply the phrase: 

"You do not recognize the bodies in the water."

set to music by Felix Jarrar.

workshop premiere to be performed at

Opera America, Charles MacKay Studio

7pm November 22, 2022

Bodies Poster 3 - Photo by Carlos _Grury_ Santos.jpg

When they killed us, did you say they killed americans?

Since the Covid-19 Pandemic, anti-Asian hate crimes have skyrocketed, leaving many Asian-Americans feeling unsafe and unwanted in their own country. I remember I was volunteering giving the first Covid-19 vaccine to people and, immediately after feeling like there was a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, read the news about the Atlanta Spa shooting. This was written not long after. Set to music by Felix Jarrar. 

Video coming soon
Video coming soon
Video coming soon
Video coming soon
Video coming soon
Video coming soon

When they killed us, did you say they killed Americans?
When they beat us, did our blood look American to you?
When we cried out for help, were you impressed with our English?

That hate, where does it come from?

No, where does it really come from?

When they mock us, are we obedient enough?
When they blame us, what country do they blame?
When they shoot us, are we murdered the American way?

That silence, where does it come from?

No, where does it really come from?

The nightmare of the pandemic is almost over, we are told.

Yet each day I see another body
broken, spat on, limp and lying on the ground
who could be my mother or my grandfather.

How should this give me hope?

When you shut your doors, were you as frightened
as the woman being stomped on the pavement a few feet away?

Were you as surprised to read the news
as you were our history?

Are these scars patriotic enough for you?

When we surrendered our names, were we American enough?

When we disowned our mother tongue, were we American enough?

We were always American enough.

These tears,

where do they come from?

Where do they really come from?

Having guests for dinner

When Marcus and Laura arrive at their friend's coworker's house for a dinner party, things take an unexpected turn for the macabre. Curious guests always make the best food in this dark comedy! Set to music by Nicholas Bentz.

"Trash in this context means that it takes its inspiration from the movies and TV shows that are so bad that they're good - the sort of art that encourages you not only to laugh with it, but at it!"

 

Nicholas Bentz, composer

Music by Nicholas Bentz

2020 premiere, New Opera West

Scored for piano, solo mezzo-soprano, solo tenor, & solo bass

Length: 16 minutes

Premiere Cast:

Laura - Janet Szepei Todd

Marcus - Edmond Rodriguez

Christoph - Anthony Moreno

Mikylvxka Hllupo

Mikylvxka Hllupo is a monodrama for bass voice and Pierrot ensemble, following an unnamed speaker's hallucinatory journey through its crests and troughs, reaching ecstatic highs and ultimately a sublimely horrifying descent into the dark plains of the human un-conscience as they come face to face with an incomprehensible terror.

I step into my room

lock the door
close the windows
and turn the lights off
The room is dead
The room is cold
The devil whispers a lullaby

I close my eyes
As silence looms and the room awakens, the walls sprint away
The ceiling joins the nebulae above
The floorboard sinks into a hole like fine white sands rushing down an hourglass

There is no room
I am the room
I am nothing
I am all

My head erupts into clouds of bismuth

I watch my body shrink, disappear
until I'm zipping at the speed of light

The night sky blurs

Stars transmuted into radiant streams of epiphany
My soul splits into trillions of atoms bursting in all directions overwhelmed
by terror sublime

The Eye of God speaks to me in a conch shell melody, casting the shadow of the four suns

The iris, a black halo
a rainbow of colors I've never seen before, engulfs the soul with inescapable gravity

The Eye of God splits open my skull

allowing for the purest wine to flow from the river of life and light
It knows all and understands nothing, but I comprehend

The Eye of God is the grand spiral, the universal whole, the constant nothing
the great I AM

and
I am nothing
I am the universe I am the spiral

I am every molecule of air
and every photon splattering colour on Earth's blank canvas, giving birth to emerald valleys and scorched canyons
I am the truth

The EYE
The I
watching me


My third eye awakened, God paints an image:

a black mass of spiders and crows crawling

contorting their appendages
confined to the cancerous glue that imprisons them, cackling at the demon they've created
A sinister tumor with porcelain horns scraping holes in the sky

maggots and worms convulsing as one
infecting one another with their poison
which comes from the oozing, black hearts of angels smote down from the kingdom

The creature screams at me with its static howl. Ouroboros circle its red, bulging eyes
The red eyes that illuminate the abyss
and peer into my deepest fears

Secrets hidden deep within my castle, secrets that I will take to my grave.

Music by Nicholas Bentz

2017 premiere, Peabody Conservatory

Scored for solo bass voice & Pierrot ensemble (flute, clarinet, violin, cello, & piano)

Length: 15 minutes

Premiere Cast:

Robert Ellsworth Feng, bass

Lily Josefsberg, flute

Andrew Im, clarinet

Shannon Fitzhenry, violin

Kahler Suzuki, cello

Aaron Thacker, piano

Alan Buzbaum, conductor