Visitations: Theotokia and The War Reporter

Monday, January 13, 2014. 8:00 pm

Visitations: Theotokia and The War Reporter

Monday, January 13, 2014. 8:00 pm

Composed by Jonathan Berger
Libretto by Dan O’Brien
Music Direction by Christopher Rountree
Directed by Rinde Eckert
Video Design by Mark De Chiazza

Featuring New York Polyphony, JACK Quartet and Mellissa Hughes

“ Jonathan Berger’s lithe, evocative music […] created two richly characterized scores that helped pull a listener into the world of each piece.” –San Francisco Chronicle

Gradual and insidious, auditory hallucinations warp minds with “loud thoughts,” that often deceive, derange, and force sufferers into a world of crippling paranoia. Visitations, the New York premiere of the double-bill, semi-staged multi-media concert of one-act chamber operas by composer Jonathan Berger and librettist Dan O’Brien unravels the phenomenon. In Theotokia, penetrate the consciousness of a man who, assailed by hallucinatory voices, is taunted and seduced by the mother of God. Uncover the true story of Pulitzer Prize-winning combat journalist Paul Watson in The War Reporter, where he seeks to stifle the haunting voice of an American soldier whose corpse he photographed in the streets of Mogadishu.

A Post-Show Conversation will follow the January 12 performance.

Visitations was commissioned by and premiered at Stanford Live in April 2013 in a Beth Morrison Projects production. Co-presented by Roulette.


Jonathan Berger is the Denning Family Provostial Professor in Music at Stanford University, where he teaches composition, music theory, and cognition at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). He was the founding co-director of the Stanford Institute for Creativity and the Arts (SICA, now the Stanford Arts Institute) and founding director of Yale University’s Center for Studies in Music Technology. Berger’s “dissonant but supple” (The New York Times) compositions integrate science and human experience, i.e. what does a cancer cell or golf swing sound like? And why does a song make us cry? Playfully called “a musician who accidentally became a scientist” by American Public Media’s Weekend America, Berger is an active researcher with over 70 publications in a wide range of fields relating to music, science and technology. Research areas include studies in music cognition, audio restoration, signal processing, and statistical methods for automatic music recognition, classification and transcription. He is a sought-after lecturer, and is frequently quoted as an authority on psychoacoustic phenomena. Since its founding in 2006, Berger has overseen the annual Stanford Symposium on Music and the Brain.

Dan O’Brien’s play The Body of an American won the inaugural Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama and the winner of the L. Arnold Weissberger Award, and premiered at Portland Center Stage in 2012 directed by Bill Rauch. O’Brien’s debut poetry collection, War Reporter, is forthcoming in 2013 from Hanging Loose Press in New York City and CB Editions in London. Off-Broadway and regional productions of O’Brien’s plays include The Cherry Sisters Revisited (Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival), The Dear Boy (Second Stage Theatre), The Voyage of the Carcass (SoHo Playhouse; Page 73 Productions), Moving Picture (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Am Lit (Ensemble Studio Theatre), The House in Hydesville (Geva Theatre Center), Key West (Geva), and Lamarck (Perishable Theatre). He has served as a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University, a Sundance Institute Time Warner Fellow, the inaugural Djerassi Fellow in Playwriting at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and twice as the Tennessee Williams Fellow at The University of the South (Sewanee). Originally from New York, O’Brien lives in Los Angeles.