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Mothers Shine Bright at Glimmerglass Festival This Summer

originally published: 07/07/2022

Mothers Shine Bright at Glimmerglass Festival This Summer

(COOPERSTOWN, NY) -- Librettist Lila Palmer and Director Chloe Treat join forces this summer on the World Premiere production of HOLY GROUND at the 2022 Glimmerglass Festival. This ‘what-if’ reimagination of a biblical story reflects on Mary’s choice to become a mother. The opera by Damien Geter and Palmer will be performed as part of a “Double Bill” along with Kamala Sankaram and Jerry Dye’s TAKING UP SERPENTS, also directed by Treat. These talented women, both mothers of young children, present the opera in a limited engagement at the Alice Busch Opera Theater, (7300 NY-80, Cooperstown, NY 13326). Performances begin Friday, July 29 and continue on a varied schedule through Saturday, August 20.

Part angelic office comedy, part dystopian Messiah tale, Palmer’s anarchic libretto tracks a familiar story with a new twist: a Messiah is due to save the world, but human women seem uninterested in taking part. Can heaven persuade the right girl to sign up, and should they even have to convince her? Holy Ground is that strange beast, a gut punch comedy with a loving hand that refuses easy answers, reilluminating the only experience to which the entire human race has a relationship: motherhood.

Palmer and Treat welcome the opportunity to address and discuss motherhood. The show raises questions that the two are grappling with in their own lives. What does it mean to be a mother in a society that does not support motherhood or mothers in practice? Can anyone hope to mother well in a society that expects working mothers to ‘mother as if they don’t work and work as if they aren’t mothers?’ 

As Palmer and Treat grappled in the rehearsal room with the Roe ruling, the two spoke powerfully about what it means that the show clearly identifies Mary actively choosing motherhood. Treat said, ‘what I love about the piece is that it’s honest about the cost of motherhood. It doesn’t shy away from the life altering nature of becoming a mom. I think that’s particularly relevant when our society is trying to pretend motherhood is outcome-neutral for people with a womb.’ Palmer adds, ‘It’s important to me that while this is a retelling, I didn’t change any theology to tell this story because I didn’t need to. The biblical God asked the biblical Mary for permission, he asked her to decide if her destiny was motherhood. A deity submits to the free will of a young woman. That seemed worth highlighting.’ 

Despite the serious subject, the show is billed, accurately, as a comedy. Palmer adds, ‘the world has felt like a pretty dark place lately, and part of writing Holy Ground was actually wanting to inject some lightness into a world and an art form that tends heavy. Maybe it’s being English, but I’d rather laugh and then cry than just cry. So there’s also a comedy troupe of well-meaning angels making a complete mess of things and sort of throwing the drama into relief.’

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The production stars Alyson Cambridge, Carly R. Carillo, Taylor-Alexis DuPont, Joseph Goodale, Jasmine Habersham, Helen Zhibing Huang, Mary-Hollis Hundley, Jacquelyn Matava, Michael Mayes, Jonathan Pierce Rhodes, Jeremiah Tyson 

Lidiya Yankovskaya is the Conductor and Dmitry Glivinskiy‡ is the Assistant Conductor. The production features scenic design by James F. Rotondo III, costume design by Trevor Bowen, and lighting design by Mary Louise Geiger. Joel Morain is the sound designer, Tom Watson is Hair & Make-up designer and Name is the stage manager. Publicity by Katie Rosin/Kampfire PR.

Tickets are $10-$149 and are available for purchase online. Running Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes.

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