THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED DUE TO UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES. WE THANK YOU FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING. A screening of the film Breathing Free, a visual album by Heartbeat Opera and filmmaker and researcher-in-residence at the CHI, Anaiis Cisco. The screening is followed by a talkback with Ms. Cisco, and soprano Kelly Griffin. Tickets are available through Amherst Cinema.
This event is a co-production of the Amherst College Department of Music, the Music@Amherst Series (M@A), the Center for Humanistic Inquiry (CHI) and Amherst Cinema.
About Breathing Free, a visual album
Focusing on Black empowerment in the arts, featuring excerpts from Beethoven’s Fidelio; Negro spirituals; and songs by Harry T. Burleigh, Florence Price, Langston Hughes, Anthony Davis and Thulani Davis
“O welche Lust, in freier Luft den Atem leicht zu heben!”
“O what joy, in the open air, freely to breathe again!”
— The Prisoners, Fidelio
In 2018, Heartbeat collaborated with 100 incarcerated singers in six prison choirs to create a contemporary American Fidelio told through the lens of Black Lives Matter. In 2020-- the year of George Floyd’s murder, a pandemic which ravages our prison population and the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth --Heartbeat curated a song cycle, brought to life in vivid music videos, mingling excerpts from Fidelio with Negro spirituals and songs by Black composers and lyricists, which together manifest a dream of justice, equity... and breathing free.
– The Boston Globe
"BEAUTIFULLY DONE AND VERY MOVING"
– Phylicia Rashad
"BRACING, COMPELLING, AND HEARTBREAKING"
– Musical America
– The Washington Post
"MAGNIFICENT AND VIVACIOUS"
– Broadway World
“[AN] INTENSE WORK OF SHIMMERING BEAUTY"
– L.A. Dance Chronicle
About Heartbeat Opera
Ethan Heard (co-artistic director and producer) and Louisa Proske (co-artistic director) founded Heartbeat Opera in 2014, after they graduated from Yale School of Drama’s directing program, to create radical adaptations of classic operas in intimate spaces for 21st-century audiences. “One of the most agile and dynamic companies on New York's indie opera scene” (Opera News), Heartbeat has already established itself as a highly respected, innovative force in the opera world.
In its first six seasons, Heartbeat has presented 12 fully realized productions, often featuring new chamber arrangements and English translations. Heartbeat adaptations, which can be seen as world premieres of classics, speak to the moment. Fidelio featured a primarily Black cast and more than 100 incarcerated singers from six prison choirs. Carmen was set on the U.S./Mexico border and featured accordion, electric guitar and saxophone. This spring, Heartbeat took Lady M, its adaptation of Verdi’s Macbeth, online and sold out 32 Virtual Soirées, reaching 740 households across five continents. Heartbeat has taken its productions to the Kennedy Center, BAM and Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, Ore. It staged the first-ever opera performance on The High Line and has mounted its immensely popular, interdisciplinary Halloween Drag Extravaganza each year since its founding, in iconic venues such as National Sawdust and Roulette.
Heartbeat has been hailed across the national and international press, including in three features in The New York Times, in stories on CNN and the BBC, and in an ALL ARTS/WNET documentary: “Bracing—icy vodka shots of opera instead of ladles of cream sauce” (The New York Times), “elegant and boisterous” (The New Yorker), “fascinating and gorgeous” (Observer), “ingenious” (The Wall Street Journal), “gripping and entertaining” (Opernwelt), "a flatout triumph" (Opera News).