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An homage to the campy and spine-chilling horror films of the 1940s, the stage version of Acquanetta combines theater, opera and film to explore the world of a real-life B-movie star with a mysterious past. Known for her exotic beauty, Acquanetta—aka Mildred Davenport—was the star of such cult films as Captive Wild Woman, Jungle Woman, The Sword of Monte Cristo and Tarzan and the Leopard Woman, before she disappeared from public life.
Michael Gordon's soaring and often comic score, with text by librettist Deborah Artman, is a vivid metaphor for the ways in which the movie camera manipulates how we see and are seen. The cast of characters, featuring Mikaela Bennett (Acquanetta), Amelia Watkins (Brainy Woman), Eliza Bagg (Ape), Matt Boehler (Director) and Timur (Doctor), reveals inner longings and emotional shadows in a spooky meditation on identity, transformation, stereotypes and typecasting, set in the heyday of Hollywood glamour.
The official studio recording of Acquanetta also features the Bang on a Can Opera Ensemble, with Courtney Orlando (violin), Caleb Burhans (violin and viola), Ashley Bathgate (cello), Taylor Levine (electric guitar and bass), Greg Chudzik (double and electric bass) and Red Wierenga (keyboard and electronics). The chorus is comprised of members of the Choir of Trinity Wall Street.
released July 19, 2019
Mikaela Bennett, Acquanetta
Amelia Watkins, Brainy Woman
Eliza Bagg, Ape
Matt Boehler, Director
Courtney Orlando, violin
Caleb Burhans, violin and viola
Ashley Bathgate, cello
Taylor Levine, electric guitar and bass
Greg Chudzik, double and electric bass
Red Wierenga, keyboard and electronics
Michael Gordon's music merges subtle rhythmic invention with incredible power embodying, in the words of The New Yorker's Alex Ross, "the fury of punk rock, the nervous brilliance of free jazz and the intransigence of classical modernism."