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Crescent City depicts a hellish landscape of a city destroyed by one hurricane and waiting for the onslaught of another, even bigger one. It takes place in a fictional American city, Crescent City, modeled on post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. In the nearly abandoned and lawless rubble of a devastated city, the inhabitants of Crescent City try to resume a normal life; meanwhile, the bad waters of the new storm wake up all the notorious ghosts of the city’s past, including the legendary Voodoo goddess Marie Laveau. While the ghosts flood out of the city like spiritual refugees, Marie mobilizes the gods (loa) from the Voodoo pantheon, who will inhabit the bodies of a handful of the remaining citizens in a last-ditch effort to turn the situation around. Will the loa avert, or subvert, the final destruction of this city? Are its individuals, its society, its life—worth saving? Will the collective potency of the loa be vanquished by overwhelming environmental, political, and cultural forces?

These are some of the crucial questions underlying the opera, with music by Anne LeBaron, a libretto by Douglas Kearney, and direction by Yuval Sharon.

In May 2006, five scenes from Crescent City were performed on the New York City Opera’s VOX series. Phantasmagoriettas from Crescent City was presented during the 2007 Dag in die Branding Festival in Den Haag with three singers and five musicians, the Loos Ensemble. From De Trouw: “…the work of the American Anne LeBaron was musically the most extensively developed. She is working on an opera that functions as a kind of ‘wake-up call’ for the disasters that threaten humanity. If ever the ideal of melding different musical styles together came close, it was in this very enjoyable American mix of jazz, improvisation, and operatic passion.” The NYCO invited LeBaron back to showcase further excerpts of Crescent City for the 2009 VOX program. Here are a few audio clips from the 2006 and the 2009 performances (the latter includes a video interview with LeBaron and Kearney). A more detailed synopsis can be viewed here.

Marie | Erzulie | Samedi
(Additional photos can be seen in the gallery on the media page)

Crescent City
The Silent Steppe Cantata
Breathtails
Julie’s Garden of
Unearthly Delights
The Well-Read Clavier
Sucktion

 
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