Tonight is the long awaited night that has been two and a half years nearly three in the making. So much work as gone into this production from all sides; creatively, artistically, managerially, and administratively. It is all things art and business. It has been an emotional journey of ups and downs, but tonight an audience will see what we've all been preparing for!
It all began with an idea that was brought to me by Sylvia Peters and Emily Anderson, and tonight it becomes the reality that I have curated.
This opera is about Knoxville native, Beauford Delaney, and in fact we are performing next door to one of the homes he grew up in. You can literally see his home from the parking lot of the Beck Center where the performance will open tonight.
What would Beauford Delaney think?
Beauford Delaney became a famous modernist painter in New York during the Harlem Renaissance in the 1930’s and 40’s and for abstract expressionism following his move to Paris in the 1950’s. Beauford had many famous friends including James Baldwin who called Beauford his mentor and spiritual guide.
This opera explores Beauford's sexuality, art, and schizophrenia. We begin and end at his funeral where James Baldwin is delivering his eulogy. Through the middle of the opera we are in Paris, St. Anne’s Hospital for the insane, where Beauford spent the last part of his life.
While we encounter Beauford in the asylum we experience his journey through his eyes. He remembers first moving to Boston, New York, and Paris. He remembers friends, parties, Knoxville, and his mother, but mostly we see him go in and out of pain. We experience the voices tormenting him, and watch him silence them through his painting.
In the urban dictionary Shadowlight means a shadow produced by projection of light rather than an absence of it. Unlike a typical shadow which is frequently associated with a person bringing their personal darkness into a positive environment, shadowlight is associated with a person bringing their light, their positivity, into a dower environment. For me this definition describes Beauford perfectly!
In our production we use projections to help tell Beauford’s story of darkness and light. The voices play different characters that Beauford once knew, but they are all in his imagination now as he lives out his life in the asylum trying to calm the voices.
As an artist it has been fascinating to work on this opera, because we all experience our own version of “the voices” the thoughts inside our minds that tell us we’re not good enough, or worthy to do what we do, or to be appreciated. So tonight, in memory and honor of Beauford Delaney we will silence the negative voices in our heads, worrying, complaining, taunting us that we’re not good enough, that something wasn’t done as well as it should have been. Tonight we will watch and learn from Beauford how to create light and beauty by silencing the voices.
Opening Night is Sold Out
Tickets Available for Saturday, Feb 29