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JUDITH is a new music/text/chamber/hybrid/opera with a libretto written and directed by Karin Coonrod with music composed and directed by Paul Vasile, who has collaborated with Colombari since its founding in 2004. The story is inspired by the anonymous Anglo-Saxon poem fragment Judith (circa 1000, found in the most famous manuscript of the period: Nowell Codex, which also contains the heroic epic Beowulf). Judith was inspired by the Apocryphal story of Judith in the Hebrew Scriptures. Informed by the extravagant iconography over the centuries and the texts and music that have emerged, JUDITH finds a place in the 21st century.


Judith’s courage in the face of male tyranny comes from a higher authority. Our Judith is not seductive but rather a truth-to-power character. She is determined to save the self-respect of her people, but the brutality of her action – the beheading of the oppressor Holofernes – darkens the righteousness of the triumph. Judith’s strike against injustice makes her a heroine, but she has blood on her hands. The conflict inside of Judith is at the heart of the opera. It is in the surprising confrontation with the Bard, an invented character, in the third movement where a door opens into transcendence as if all of the time were unleashed in the present moment through the memories of the Bard. In a new intimacy of friendship, the Bard tells Judith that her people must witness her strength and victory to know they are liberated. She cannot wash the blood off her hands, so she must accept her role; she must go to them with her sword in hand and the head of the tyrant for all to see.


Development and Production History:

Compagnia de’ Colombar’s JUDITH has been in development since 2018. A workshop presentation featuring professional singers and MIT students premiered at The Center for Arts, Science and Technology at MIT on March 5, 2019, following a five-day workshop and residency hosted by Diana Henderson, Professor of Literature at MIT. Workshop production collaborators included Compagnia de’ Colombar’s veterans, Paul Vasile (composer and music director), Sarah Heltzel (Judith), Sorab Wadia (Ozias, Prince of Bethulia), Oana Botez (costume design), Liesl Smith (dramaturgy) and John Conklin.

JUDITH is a new music/text/chamber/hybrid/opera with a libretto written and directed by Karin Coonrod with music composed and directed by Paul Vasile, who has collaborated with Colombari since its founding in 2004. The story is inspired by the anonymous Anglo-Saxon poem fragment Judith (circa 1000, found in the most famous manuscript of the period: Nowell Codex, which also contains the heroic epic Beowulf). Judith was inspired by the Apocryphal story of Judith in the Hebrew Scriptures. Informed by the extravagant iconography over the centuries and the texts and music that have emerged, JUDITH finds a place in the 21st century.


Judith’s courage in the face of male tyranny comes from a higher authority. Our Judith is not seductive but rather a truth-to-power character. She is determined to save the self-respect of her people, but the brutality of her action – the beheading of the oppressor Holofernes – darkens the righteousness of the triumph. Judith’s strike against injustice makes her a heroine, but she has blood on her hands. The conflict inside of Judith is at the heart of the opera. It is in the surprising confrontation with the Bard, an invented character, in the third movement where a door opens into transcendence as if all of the time were unleashed in the present moment through the memories of the Bard. In a new intimacy of friendship, the Bard tells Judith that her people must witness her strength and victory to know they are liberated. She cannot wash the blood off her hands, so she must accept her role; she must go to them with her sword in hand and the head of the tyrant for all to see.


Development and Production History:

Compagnia de’ Colombar’s JUDITH has been in development since 2018. A workshop presentation featuring professional singers and MIT students premiered at The Center for Arts, Science and Technology at MIT on March 5, 2019, following a five-day workshop and residency hosted by Diana Henderson, Professor of Literature at MIT. Workshop production collaborators included Compagnia de’ Colombar’s veterans, Paul Vasile (composer and music director), Sarah Heltzel (Judith), Sorab Wadia (Ozias, Prince of Bethulia), Oana Botez (costume design), Liesl Smith (dramaturgy) and John Conklin.

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