Satan's Bride: Maren of Vardø
Composer: Jeff Myers
Composer Bio: The music of Jeff Myers (b.1977) has been called “Striking…and harmonically rich” by the New York Times and “…brilliant and powerful…” by The Classical Voice of New England. Myers draws on preexisting musical works, styles and genres, as well as visual art and natural phenomena. Filipino kulintang music, works by M.C. Escher, overtone music, folk music and geographical narratives have been a source for inspiration. His operatic collaboration with writer and filmmaker Royce Vavrek yielded the one-act opera The Hunger Art, based on Kafka’s "The Hunger Artist" and the Adam and Eve story. Currently Myers is working on a new full length opera with Mr. Vavrek (Maren of Vardø) and a new one-act opera with writer Quincy Long (Buried Alive) As part of American Lyric Theater’s “Poe Project”. His music has been played by Hilary Hahn on her international tour (encores project and forthcoming recording on Deutsche Grammaphon), ensembles such as L’Orchestre National de Lorraine, American Composers Orchestra, Ann Arbor Symphony, New York Youth Symphony, members of New World Symphony, University of Michigan Symphony Band, American Lyric Theater, Center City Opera, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Transit, PRISM Saxophone Quartet, and the JACK Quartet. He has received awards from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, BMI, as well as fellowships from the Aspen Festival, Tanglewood, Festival Acanthes, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and grants from institutions and private funds such as the Jerome Foundation, American Music Center, Puffin Foundation, the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust, the Anna Sosenko Trust, and The Fromm Foundation. His music has been heard at Carnegie Hall, Library of Congress, Kimmel Center, Darmstadt, Gaudeamus, Symphony Space, Arsenal, Le Poisson Rouge, and the Tenri Cultural Institute to name a few. Myers holds degrees from San José State University, the Eastman School of Music and the University of Michigan. He currently resides New York as a freelance composer.
Librettist: Royce Vavrek
Librettist Bio: Royce Vavrek is a Canadian filmmaker, librettist, playwright and musical theatre writer. His work has been presented at or performed by the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, New York City Opera, The Kitchen, Alarm Will Sound, International Contemporary Ensemble, Opera America, Peak Performances at Montclair, American Lyric Theater and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, among others. His current commissions include an opera for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and a musical for Signature Theater. Vavrek's filmmaking credits include "From Sky and Soil", which was created as part of the Corus Young Filmmakers Initiative for broadcast on the W Network through a prize administered by the Canadian Film and Television Production Association.
Original Cast: Jennifer Braun (Maren)
Paul Corujo (Satan)
Patrick McNally (The Priest)
Karina Sweeney (Bodil)
Christina Rivera (Karen)
Jennifer Holbrook (Gunnhild)
Premiere Date: June 06, 2013
Description: Act 1
Maren, a twelve-year-old Norwegian girl, is being interrogated by the town Priest after being accused of witch craft.  She begins to tell a fanciful tale about her journey to hell and we enter her fantasy world… She walks into the crevice of a tree.  She descends into the depths of the earth to find a giant ocean of fire.  Satan reveals himself, walking down the rocky steps, to sooth his feet in the burning sea.  Maren is drawn to him.  Maren feels a kinship with Satan.  He is similar to her beloved childhood pony Ole, who was put down due to disease.  After getting to know each other, Maren sleeps the night in Satan’s embrace. 

The next day, Maren and Satan travel to be with the girls for their celebration.  It is during this time, filled with music and dancing, that one of the girls, 13 year-old Bodil, kisses Satan, an action that sends Maren into a jealous rage.  The girls are suddenly seized by a group of clergy who restrain them for committing acts of witchcraft.  We return from the fantasy… 

Act 2  
The girls are held in the “witch’s hole”, while Maren is being interrogated.  A priest, who is testing the girls through various ordeals, lacks the evidence to convict Maron.  Sure that the mark of Cain appears somewhere on her body, he begins to shear the head of her curls.  When no mark results, he hits her with the back of his hand and exits the room in haste.  Back in the witch’s hole, the, the girls sing, scared in their metal prison.  Meanwhile, Maren sits and tells her of her mother’s final hours and pretends to speak to God about her situation.  All the while he heats a large branding device.  As the priest readies to brand a mark on the back of Maren’s head she confesses to visiting hell, but charges Bodil and the other girls with being intoxicated by him.  The three other girls are burned at the stake. 

Act 3  
Maren imagines her future after committing her friends to death.  She works s in a labor camp.  Now a frail sixty year old woman, she is still forced to do menial woodworking.  One day she cries out Satan’s name, and a stairway in the floor opens up, which she explores with a candle.  She crawls down the steps that are carved into stone, and soon she is in a familiar place: the hell of her girlhood.  When there, she is greeted by the girls she betrayed:  they exit from the ocean of fire wearing white bridal gown with the same likeness of their young selves.  Bodil hugs Maren and says that she forgives her.  Satan enters, the hair on his withers grown long.  Maren exclaims that she’s waited her entire life to return.  She too wants to commit herself to the ocean of fire.  Satan doesn’t recognize her, even as she attempts to jog his memory.  He expels her from hell, forcing her back to her life in Vardo.  When she is almost gone, he cannot control his sadness and calls back to her, telling Maren that she will be the eternal martyr.  She will suffer forever knowing that her act of betrayal as led to Satan choosing her persecuted friends as the loves of his life.  He questions whether she is doomed to an eternity in limbo, or maybe worse: heaven.
Length: Length is not available.
Total Acts: 3
Contact: Not Available
Composer Web Site: http://jeffmyersmusic.com/
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