Orange County Register
Hysteria and Opera at Grand Central
May 18, 2015
Composer Lisa Bielawa, Cal State Fullerton's Grand Central Art Center artist-in-residence, began her most recent project in the library stacks during her undergraduate studies at Yale University. There, she found the writings of groups of men who judged, treated and sometimes condemned women deemed to be afflicted by hysteria.
Bielawa noticed that one voice was missing: A woman's.
With the help of director Charles Otte and librettist Erik Ehn, Bielawa turned her research into "Vireo," an episodic opera available through KCET online. "Vireo" the name of the main character, is played by Rowen Sabala. Vireo is a young woman diagnosed with hysteria as seen through the lens of three different time periods: the 1500s, 1800s and the present day. The audience follows her journey through her struggles via her perspective.
We asked Bielawa about "Vireo" and the world of an episodic opera. Continue reading.