By Afton Wooten
Damien Geter and Lila Palmer’s new opera “Holy Ground” will make its world premiere at the 2022 Glimmerglass Festival.
“Holy Ground” is a reimagining of the biblical story of Mary and the choice to become a mother. Although the subject matter of the work is heavy and relevant to current events, the opera is set as a comedy. Palmer remarks, “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.”
Both Palmer and director Chloe Treat are mothers of young children. Their experiences play a huge part in the process of making this opera. “Holy Ground” shares thoughts on motherhood, choice, and proposes questions the two have in their own lives as working mothers.
The piece was commissioned by Francesca Zambello with the charge of being related to faith. Palmer began writing “Holy Ground” while pregnant, which she kept secret because of the pressure put on women. Her post-partum hemorrhage caused a near-death experience and led her to realize the opera “had to be a life death dance.”
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, and Jeremiah Tyson. Lidiya Yankovskaya conducts and Treat leads the stage direction.
The premiere will be performed as part of a “Double Bill” along with Kamala Sankaram and Jerry Dye’s “Taking Up Serpents” also directed by Treat. Shows will be held at the Alice Busch Opera Theater, beginning Friday, July 29 through Saturday, August 20.