The story of King Lavra is based on a Czech fairy tale about a king, with an embarrassing secret: beneath his long hair, he has the ears of a donkey. Although he is generally benign, if uninspired leader, his insecurity about having the ears of an ass lead him to execute every barber who cuts his hair – to ensure the secrecy of his unusual feature. When Kukulin is chosen as the next unlucky barber, his widowed mother employes the king to spare him. The king relents, but swears Kukulin to secrecy – a secret that turns out to very heavy to keep.
A new micro-opera for chorus, piano, percussion and live video projection, King Lavra premiered at the Czech Center as a part of a program featuring music by contemporary Czech composer Jan Jirásek on May 11th. Musical performance by Khorikos, an a cappella ensemble and the 2012 Manhattan representative of WQXR Battle of the Boroughs. Live video by acclaimed video artist (and my sister-in-law) Sheri Wills. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the London Film Festival and the International Film Festival in Rotterdam and is featured in the Rizzoli book, Sonic Graphics: Seeing Sound, by Matt Woolman. She has had one-person screenings at the Director’s Lounge in Berlin, the Robert(a) Beck Memorial Cinema in NYC, and the Telluride International Film Exposition.
It was a magical evening. And it’s not over yet for lucky local fans of fantastical tales. See King Lavra and the related works in this inspired interpretation on Thursday, May 23rd at Roulette in Brooklyn. The rich imagery is evocative, the chorus astounding. Escape into a fairy tale on the 23rd.