Requiem for a River: Operatic Reflections on the Euphrates

I am writing this article the day before the Dutch elections. Far-right populist Geert Wilders has been leading the polls, and Turkish-Dutch youngsters are marching the streets waving dramatically large Turkish flags. For the first time in my life, I see military police trucks (and water-tanks) drive past my window. CNN and Al Jazeera discuss the “situation” in the Netherlands. Unimaginable things are happening to my country. I create operas as a platform for dialogue in a multicultural society. My artistic work stems from research on music dramas from around the globe. I was fortunate to be able to do research on a wide range of music-drama practices, for example Tibetan Opera at the Tibetan Institute for Performing Arts; passion play Ta’ziyeh in Iran; and the ancient Maya dance-drama Rabìnal Achi in Guatemala. Ironically, I found the richest traditions in places where cultural identity is under pressure, especially after a history of violence. For example, one of the first official actions the Dalai Lama took when

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Embracing the Vulnerability of Others

Marte Røyeng is a singer/songwriter based in Oslo, Norway. I met her on a trip to Norway a few years ago where, at the time, she had just finished creating a musical with at-risk youth that dealt with aspects climate change. I have been following her work from a distance since then, always delighted to listen to her haunting and richly textured songs. A gifted musician who plays mandolin, piano, guitar and banjo, Marte has performed in concert venues, cafés and smaller festivals in Oslo and as far north as Lofoten. Here, she tells us what drives her, why urgency must be accompanied with compassion, and why embracing the vulnerability of others is a source of hope. What inspires you? I often find inspiration in descriptions of a life that is different and more extreme than mine. When I feel like a stranger to what I am listening to, reading, or seeing, I feel the need to respond, and that response is usually a piece of music,

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The Nature of Man

Madmen and Dreamers is a progressive rock band who writes, records, and performs original rock operas. Our first project, The Children of Children, enjoyed a limited run at the Bleecker Street Theater in New York City following its regional tour. The band, founded by Christine Hull and me, is raising funds for the tour of its new project, a climate change rock opera called The Nature of Man, written by Mario Renes, Christine, and me. While we were touring The Children of Children, Mario, Chris and I began to talk about the next project. The environment was the obvious choice, but which aspect of climate change should we focus on? As writers are universally cruel to their characters we started tossing around worst case scenarios. It didn’t take long to settle on water: the lynchpin of climate change and flash point of fracking and pollution. But… how to make this huge issue accessible to the audience? While pondering that, Chris and I were

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