The Making of DIVIDE LIGHT

Divide Light 2018 is an opera created through collaboration between Originator/ Creative Director Lesley Dill and Composer Richard Marriott. It contemporizes the works of poet Emily Dickinson, linking the groundbreaking ideas of the mid-19th century American Transcendental movement to innovations and global concerns in today’s rapidly changing world.

Divide Light examines the nature of emotion and story-telling in contemporary society through the lens of Dickinson’s 19th century philosophical poetics. It challenges and expands the traditional opera format through its sparser and more closely developed presentation. The opera features eight operatic voices, and a string quintet. Its striking visual elements feature large projections on a back screen of images combining Dill’s edgy and evocative black and white photographs with text from Dickinson’s poetry. Poems stream, scroll, flash, twirl, pop out, edge in, seep out, fade in, fall down, and rise up on the screen. The performers sing Dickinson’s words and wear them scrawled across their costumes.

Lesley Dill On emily dickinson

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

This great American poet, Emily Dickinson was born and lived her life in Amherst, Mass. In Dickinson's poems, there are often moments of haunted, deep darkness, suddenly illuminated by a searing electric brightness.  From Dickinson’s quiet inward life in Amherst, she hid away passages filled with wonder, contradiction, and visionary strangeness. I wanted to reflect this in the songs, projections, & costumes in this opera.  Dickinson wrote during the time of the American Civil War, but her words are also for us now, in our era.