Hellbendr, an Opera


Hellbendr Mask ExperimentHellbendr is a ‘folk opera’ about extreme flooding, mudslides, and the amphibian society downstream. This opera brings together my love of systems theory, interactive performance, and sculpture in the form of sets, electronic props, and installation.

In 1940 the grand mountains in Boone, NC were foolishly clear cut, resulting in twelve feet of mud in the streets. Among my characters, the Woodsman and the Hellbendr, archetypes of Civilization and Nature; Doc, the mystagogue; the Systems Council of Hellbendrs; and the board of Wood Corp.

The sound environment: an assembly of traditional/old time and minimalist pointillism water music like the pulsing of Steve Reich or Philip Glass. On the ceiling of the theater, underwater projections; from the walls, the chop chop chopping of trees and the flow of water water water music; dancers on stage mountain clogging, sinuous ballet, and medicine stick ritual. This opera will embrace a Nature-aware, sophisticated South, no Mayberry, no Green Acres.

Growing up in Boone, ecology was the word of the day. The production will include dancers and musicians from town, participation from Appalachian State University (they have a program in sustainability and an opera company), and a cadre of engineers and designers.

The opera will be performed locally in Boone. Directly after the performance run, it will be filmed and edited into a video version utilizing all the benefits of working in video e.g. close-ups, multiple takes, special effects.

Following Boone, Hellbendr will have performances in other venues ‘off the mountain.’

Posts related to Hellbendr

Hellbendr Timeline

Hellbendr Timeline

Click here to download the current Hellbendr Project Timeline


Hellbendr Maquette: Sanghyang

This film is a prototype scene for my Hellbendr opera. The dancer is a manifestation of the Scottish horse spirit Mari Lwyd, known in the opera as ‘Appalachia,’ She Who Takes You Through the Gyre. Editorial is a good process for me so I will be making regular ‘video maquettes’ as a practice for Hellbendr. […]

Mari Lwyd

Mari Lwyd Horse Head Mask

Mask Synthetic paper

St Hellbendr

St Hellbendr

4:00 a.m. Costume Sketches

I hate waking up in the middle of the night, but at least I can work on this.  

Sanghyang Hellbendr Maquette