Anatomy Theater
Composer: David Lang
Composer Bio: Passionate, prolific, and complicated, composer David Lang embodies the restless spirit of invention. Lang is at the same time deeply versed in the classical tradition and committed to music that resists categorization, constantly creating new forms. Many of Lang's pieces resemble each other only in the fierce intelligence and clarity of vision that inform their structures. His catalogue is extensive, and his opera, orchestra, chamber, and solo works are by turns ominous, ethereal, urgent, hypnotic, unsettling, and very emotionally direct. Much of his work seeks to expand the definition of virtuosity in music — even the deceptively simple pieces can be fiendishly difficult to play and require incredible concentration by musicians and audiences alike.
Librettist: Mark Dion
Librettist Bio: Since the early 1990s, Mark Dion has examined the ways in which dominant ideologies and public institutions shape our understanding of history, knowledge, and the natural world. Appropriating archaeological and other scientific methods of collecting, ordering, and exhibiting objects, the artist creates works that address distinctions between objective scientific methods and subjective influences. By locating the roots of environmental politics and public policy in the construction of knowledge about nature, Dion questions the authoritative role of the scientific voice in contemporary society.
Other Artistic Personnel: Ted Hearne (conductor)
Work Web Site:
Premiere Date: June 16, 2016
Description: Anatomy Theater is about the human body - its inside, to be specific. In fact, Anatomy Theater questions the history of a kind of human meaning: what is the historic relationship between the spiritual and the physical interiors of a person? Before science the physical body was seen as the manifestation of the spiritual. The scientific dissection of people is a relatively recent phenomenon, but the insides of people have been examined for other purposes throughout history. For example, in certain parts of pre-modern Europe traveling specialists would tour from town to town and produce a kind of moral spectacle, in which the corpses of executed criminals would be dissected in front of a paying audience, with food and drink served and musicians playing. These were not scientific events, but spiritual carnivals, in which evidence of corruption was sought and uncovered in the interiors of the human body. These were essentially joyous affairs - a bit grisly but suffused with a bourgeois sense of complacence and order. The dissections were essentially voyeuristic - they are more about reinforcing the social differences between the audience and the criminal than they are about the pursuit of any kind of useful knowledge. They also contain the notion that the struggle between good and evil would have its results written within the human body. This is a very beautiful idea.

Anatomy Theater is our own version of such a spiritual carnival. We propose to create a moral dissection, with images of bodies and environments projected on scrims, 3 singers - a lecturer, a demonstrator, and the corpse itself - 3 musicians and a text drawn from surviving documents and contemporary moral tracts.
Character List (Major): Mezzo Soprano, Tenor, Baritone, Bass
Length: 01:15
Total Acts: Not Available
Orchestration: fl, cl(bcl), tpt, perc, pf, vn, va, vc, db
Contact: Red Poppy
Address: 257 Park Avenue South, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10010
E-mail Address:
Phone: 212-254-2100
Composer Web Site:
Publisher Web Site:
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