Anne LeBaron, harpist, composer and faculty member in The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts, recently returned from a futurist music festival in Malmö, Sweden, where she and Critical Studies faculty Douglas Kearney oversaw a performance of their opera Sucktion and participated on a panel discussion on the libretto.
The Connect Festival, organized by the Malmö Academy of Music, invites Swedish and international musicians, artists and ensembles to give concerts, which are supplemented by lectures, seminars, workshops, film screenings and other performances. This year’s festival—held Nov. 11-15—was organized around the theme: “Back to Futurism.” LeBaron and Kearney’s opera was one of three performances organized by festival partner Teatr Weimar.
LeBaron wrote Sucktion for laptop, percussion, soprano and vacuum, and Kearney provided the text (“lyrics”). This was the third performance of the piece, following its premiere at REDCAT’s New Original Works (NOW) Festival last year and another production in June in York, England.
With each performance, LeBaron says that she’s “gotten more specific with the scoring” since it was originally written for the SoNu ensemble, and allowed room for a lot of improvisation.
The story revolves around a woman’s “cyber-erotic transformation from abject housewife into a self-sufficient cyborg” through the “subversive use of a vacuum cleaner.” We asked LeBaron about the origins of the piece, and she said that she wanted to create something that included the “sounds of a vacuum cleaner in a musical context.”
LeBaron and Kearney are now currently working together on a large-scale opera called Crescent City.
We included the trailer for Sucktion (above) from its NOW Festival engagement.