Robert Mapplethorpe's most provocative photographs can still provoke.

The Washington Post

Triptych (Eyes of One on Another)
Composed by Bryce Dessner
Libretto by Korde Arrington Tuttle,
    featuring words by Essex Hemphill and Patti Smith
Directed by Kaneza Schaal
Featuring Roomful of Teeth,
    special guests Alicia Hall Moran and Isaiah Robinson,
    and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players
Music direction and conducting by Brad Wells

A Cal Performances Co-Commission

The cool classical symmetry and bold eroticism of Robert Mapplethorpe's photography meet sound and text in a hybrid theatrical experience that invites us to reflect on the intimate acts of looking and being looked at. Composer Bryce Dessner, best known as a member of the rock group The National, has had a lifelong fascination with the transgressive beauty of Mapplethorpe's work, and now collaborates with librettist Korde Arrington Tuttle, designer Carlos Soto, and director Kaneza Schaal to revisit the photographer's oeuvre nearly 30 years after it instigated a now-infamous obscenity trial and controversy at the National Endowment for the Arts. The libretto draws on the poetry of Patti Smith and the writings of Essex Hemphill, who chronicled the African-American gay community during the AIDS epidemic and directly addressed the contradictions at the core of Mapplethorpe's work. Dessner's new score is performed by the Grammy-winning vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, joined by special guests Alicia Hall Moran and Isaiah Robinson, and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. Beautifully crafted and performed...[Dessner] creates a full spectrum of tonalities from the deepest black shadows to blazing white highlights (SF Classical Voice).

This production features sexually explicit images from the Robert Mapplethorpe collection that may be inappropriate for some audience members. Discretion is advised.

Set and costume design by Carlos Soto
Lighting design by Yuki Nakase
Video by Simon Harding
Dramaturgy by Talvin Wilks and Christopher Myers

Produced by ArKtype/Thomas O. Kriegsmann in cooperation with The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.

Produced in residency with and commissioned by University Musical Society, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. Co-produced by Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel, music and artistic director. Triptych was co-commissioned by BAM; Luminato Festival, Toronto, Canada; Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, Athens, Greece; Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati, OH; Cal Performances, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA; Stanford Live, Stanford University, Stanford, CA; Adelaide Festival, Australia; John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for performance as part of DirectCurrent 2019; ArtsEmerson: World on Stage, Emerson College, Boston, MA; Texas Performing Arts, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX; Holland Festival, Amsterdam; Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH; the Momentary, Bentonville, AR, Celebrity Series of Boston, MA, and residency development through MassMOCA, North Adams, MA.


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Program Notes

Program notes will be available approximately one week before the performance.