COLORADO SKY (2022) - shadow puppet opera
Premiere: Summer 2023, through Art Song Colorado
Libretto by Laura Fuentes
Colorado Sky is a 30-minute shadow puppet opera commissioned by the Sohap Ensemble, the Lírios String Quartet, and Art Song Colorado. Our creative team includes composer Ben Morris, lead puppeteer Katy Williams, puppet designer Melanie Bindon, librettist Laura Fuentes, vocalists Sabina Balsamo, Claire McCahan, and Andrew Garland and artistic director Eapen Leubner.
This piece addresses the history of grey wolves in Colorado and their relationship with people and domesticated animals. In 2020, Colorado voters passed a controversial proposition to reintroduce wolves to the state, raising questions about its potential impact on regional ecology and livestock. Our story, oriented toward family audiences, follows two reintroduced wolves, Luna (the mother, soprano) and Sky (young male cub, mezzo-soprano). Sky struggles to adjust to living in Colorado but eventually learns to adapt to her new world.
Throughout the chamber opera, puppeteers Katy and Melanie bring animals to life with front-facing shadow puppetry that interacts with human characters. The puppeteers use high-power flashlights to animate the puppets; this cinematic style allows us to achieve dramatic representations of our characters. In addition to the original drawn puppets, Katy and Melanie use abstract household textures such as glass jars and intricate netting to create a dynamic, diverse, and magical world.