cassandra in the temples a one-act a capella opera by MIT's acclaimed composer elena ruehr performed by capella clausura under the direction of amelia leclair with choreography and staging by deanna pellecchia for video CLICK HERE
In Greek mythology, Apollo gives Cassandra the gift of prophecy to seduce her. When she refuses, he punishes her with the curse of never being believed. Eventually, the ignored prophetess goes mad. This epic tragedy is the starting point for Elena Ruehr’s a cappella opera Cassandra in the Temples. Ruehr, a Lecturer in Music at MIT, was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship to compose and produce this opera for the Grammy-winning vocal octet Roomful of Teeth. CASSANDRA, a 13-movement, 40-minute production, premiered at MIT in November 2014 featuring a libretto written by Gretchen Henderson, former Mellon postdoctoral researcher at MIT.
CASSANDRA was produced for the second time in November 2015 with two performances by Boston's Capella Clausura at Emmanuel Church on Newbury Street in Boston and Eliot Church in Newton. Cappella Clausura, an ensemble of voices and early music instruments directed by Amelia LeClair, is committed to researching and performing works written by women from the eighth century to the present day. KAIROS' Co-Artistic Director DeAnna Pellecchia created the choreography and directed the staging for the 2015 productions which included 12 singers and lighting design by Lynda Riemen.
elena ruehr | composer Elena Ruehr says of her music “the idea is that the surface be simple, the structure complex.” An award winning faculty member at MIT, she is also a Guggenheim Fellow and has been a fellow at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute and composer-in-residence with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, which performed and recorded her major orchestral works (O’Keeffe Images, BMOP Sound) as well as the opera Toussaint Before the Spirits (Arsis Records). Three of her six string quartets were commissioned by the Cypress String Quartet, who have recorded How She Danced: String Quartets of Elena Ruehr. Her quartets have also been performed by the Biava, Borromeo, Lark, ROCO and Shanghai string quartets. Her other recordings include Averno (Avie with the Trinity Choir, Julian Wachner, conducting), Jane Wang considers the Dragonfly (Albany), Lift (Avie) and Shimmer (Metamorphosen Chamber Ensemble on Albany).Dr. Ruehr was a student of William Bolcom at the University of Michigan, and Vincent Persichetti and Bernard Rands at The Juilliard School. Elena Ruehr’s oeuvre includes compositions for chamber ensemble, orchestra, chorus, wind ensemble, instrumental solo, opera, dance and silent film. Her work has been described as “sumptuously scored and full of soaring melodies” (The New York Times), and “unspeakably gorgeous” (Gramophone). Dr. Ruehr has taught at MIT since 1992 and lives in Boston with her husband and daughter. www.elenaruehr.org