Tag Archives: New Music

Abigail Fischer Explores the Mind of Isabelle Eberhardt

Abigail Fischer as Isabelle Eberhardt in Song from the Uproar (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Abigail Fischer as Isabelle Eberhardt in Song from the Uproar (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

“An opera begins long before the curtain goes up and ends long after it has come down. It starts in my imagination, it becomes my life, and it stays part of my life long after I’ve left the opera house.”

– Maria Callas

Opera is a place where all other art forms – art, film, even dance – meet to create a spectacular production. This is a convergence that’s very familiar to mezzo-soprano Abigail Fischer, who plays Isabelle Eberhardt in Missy Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar. Fischer utilizes various artistic talents in the multimedia opera now showing at REDCAT. It is her haunting singing, however, that mesmerizes throughout the 75-minute opera.

“Singing is a very intimate art form. It’s very connected to the deepest parts of you. You really have to know yourself,” says Fischer. The intimacy of singing – and truly all performance – is heightened in Song from the Uproar, because of its abstractness. Fischer plays Isabelle Eberhardt solely, but there is also a “Chorus of Isabelles” that alternatively showcases Eberhardt’s emotions. There’s a strong synergy between the chorus members and Fischer to the point where they repeat each other’s dance moves and lyrics. Together, they illustrate the evolving psyche of a complicated woman, her many lives, and her many deaths.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4P2pH3qhYpM

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Missy’s Song from the Uproar

Abigail Fischer as Isabelle Eberhardt in Song from the Uproar (2015); Photo Credit: James Matthew Daniel

Abigail Fischer as Isabelle Eberhardt in Song from the Uproar (2015); Photo Credit: James Matthew Daniel

“A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and unchartered places.” – Isabelle Eberhardt

In May 1897, an adventurous Swiss woman named Isabelle Eberhardt relocated to North Africa. There she went down a path of self-discovery very atypical for a woman of her time. Eberhardt lived her life to the fullest. She reveled in her time alone experiencing the desert just as much as she adored discussing Islam with members of the Sufi order she joined called Qadiriyaa.

Missy Mazzoli (right) with Director Gia Forakis (center) and singer Abigail Fischer (left)

Missy Mazzoli (right) with Director Gia Forakis (center) and singer Abigail Fischer (left)

Eberhardt also romanced and eventually married an Algerian soldier with whom she had a sometimes tender, sometimes tumultuous relationship. Tragically, her extraordinary life ended at the age of 27 when a flash flood roared through the Algerian province of Aïn Séfra. Yet, elements of Isabelle’s life have been immortalized in the words of her journals, which were published posthumously.

Eleven years ago, composer Missy Mazzoli picked up a copy of Isabelle’s journals in a Boston bookstore and read the following passage:

“On days when I have no money, I am a vagabond on the road, enjoying the reflections of gold and scarlet sunset on the white dunes. The grave alone can rob me of such wealth, not man. If I am allowed the time it takes to write the odd fragment of a description, it may even survive the minds of some.”

Eberhardt’s words stopped Mazzoli in her tracks and “haunted her for years.” This Thursday, Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar has its west coast premiere, brought to Los Angeles through a partnership between LA Opera and producer Beth Morrison Projects.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4P2pH3qhYpM

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