Overtone Industries presents the World Premiere of ICELAND, a re-Creation Myth, an original multidisciplinary work of opera theater by O-Lan Jones and Emmett Tinley from March 24-April 2, 2023 at La MaMa, 66 E. 4th Street, 2nd floor, NYC. Tickets are $35 (students/seniors $30). For more information and to purchase tickets, visit https://www.lamama.org/shows/iceland-2023.
A contemporary love story that plays with the ancient mythology of the country itself, ICELAND begins with a seemingly chance encounter between Vala, a disillusioned architect in search of answers, and Mundi, a dispirited wilderness guide mentally scarred by a climbing accident some years before. The heroine and hero embark on separate journeys across the physical and emotional terrain of a glacier, which catapults them into the realm of The Hiddenfolk and the Mythic Beasts. Through Vala and Mundi’s opposing trajectories and eventual union, ICELAND explores – using movement, music, and design – how longing, courage, and the transcendent power of love create a vibrant relationship between the intimacy of human life and the vast dynamic life of the earth.
The piece features an ensemble cast of 14 and an 11-piece chamber orchestra. Jones’ music scores the Hidden World, home to the Huldufólk or Hiddenfolk, beings who live in a parallel world to humans. Tinley’s songs – based in a singer-songwriter folk tradition – give voice to Vala and Mundi’s human desires. The two composers’ styles weave together to create a rich texture in which the Human and the Hidden coexist.
“When I heard Emmett’s song ‘Come to Life,’ it connected with a song I’d written many years before, and the initial idea for ICELAND appeared with a visceral jolt,” said O-Lan Jones, who marks her return to both New York and La MaMa with this production, after first appearing on the La MaMa stage in 1968. “One of the most exciting things about putting ICELAND together is creating a contemporary story permeated by another reality – a parallel world inhabited by the timeless Hiddenfolk. It is also exciting to give voice to Mythic Beasts in a way that is grand, yet personalized enough, to make The Bird, The Giant, The Bull and The Dragon engaging characters. Emmett and I have worked together to develop the story while keeping The Hiddenfolk’s mission alive: their wish to remind us there is a Hidden World of magic and possibilities, which seems so appropriate to the times we live in, when so many people are looking for meaning and connection in the externals provided by the contemporary culture, rather than the mysterious world alive inside. Live theater is a unique way to experience this story, through the depth and presence of the performers. We cannot imagine a better place to present ICELAND than La MaMa – and give audiences a reason to get out of the house and back into live theater spaces!”
“When O-Lan contacted me about collaborating on ICELAND, I was on the lookout for a writing challenge,” said Emmett Tinley. “Although I’ve provided songs for dance performances, most collaborative projects I’ve worked on were studio recordings or concert performances. The challenge in this instance is to compose songs specific to ICELAND that will carry their share of the story but which must integrate with all the other elements of this interdisciplinary work. My interest in anthropology had already led me to some studies of Iceland so when O-Lan outlined the story and setting I was immediately excited by the possibilities. Iceland is a very modern country which remains deeply attached to its rich mythology and this provides a powerful backdrop for the telling of Vala and Mundi’s modern, yet mythic, love story.”
Cast: Ariel Andrew, Marieke de Koker, Oliver Demers, Perri di Christina, Clayton Matthews, Nancy McArthur, A.C. “Ace” McCarthy, Matthew Moron, Matt Mueller, Carlos Pedroza, Isabel Springer, Andrew Wannigman, Angela Yam, Daiyao Zhong
Composer/Librettists: O-Lan Jones and Emmett Tinley; Director: O-Lan Jones;
Music Director: Robert Kahn; Assistant Director: Livia Reiner; with production support from BARE opera
Lighting and Scenic Design: Matthew Imhoff; Costume Designer: Matsy Stinson; Projection Content Design: Melody (Mela) London
The piece is arranged for two leads with a contemporary singer-songwriter sound, four classically trained operatic vocalists, and an SATB ensemble. It is orchestrated for Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass, Harp, Keyboards, French Horn, English Horn/Oboe, Flute, Guitar and Percussion.
“…groundbreaking new opera… ingenious use of movement…
Jones has gotten a lot of talent to do a lot of disarming things on a grand scale.”
– Los Angeles Times
“Overtone Industries has a penchant for…creating an enduring experience that balances beauty of landscapes and soundscapes with thought-provoking theater.”
– Stage and Cinema
“Beautifully experimental…perfectly translated for modern ears, ideals, and sensibilities. They are dark, full-bodied, delicious, and potent.”
O-Lan Jones (Composer, Writer) is an award-winning composer, sound designer, writer, and actress who has been consistently involved in experimental theater, music, and opera since the age of sixteen. The press has referred to her as an “uncategorizable legend.” She has created original sound designs and scores for over fifty productions in San Francisco, Los Angeles, London and New York, in collaboration with Padua Hills Playwrights, LA Woman’s Shakespeare Company, the Taper Too, Playwrights Horizons, and Bay Area Shakespeare Festival among others.
As an actress, she has originated roles in productions and readings of over 100 plays including
those of Sam Shepard, Julie Hébert, and Beth Henley. Her screen credits include iconic works like Natural Born Killers, The Truman Show, “Seinfeld,” “The X-Files,” “Shameless” and three of Tim Burton’s films including Edward Scissorhands.
Since 2015, Miz Jones has been working with Lauren Bon and Metabolic Studio as a composer
as well as conductor of the Metabolic Choir weekly singing practice. During the pandemic she
conducted the offshoot Interdependence Community Choir using the improvisational methods
she invented for The Spontaneous Combustion Choir. This year-and-a-half long project culminated in Lauren Bon’s film, Satellite Radio Choir, recently shown by Brooklyn Rail.
O-Lan founded Overtone Industries in 1980, to develop and produce original opera-theater. Their
work has been performed in traditional and non-traditional settings such as La MaMa, The Magic Theater, RedCat, The Kurt Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, The Ford Amphitheater in Los Angeles and a 25,000 sq’ empty car dealership in Culver City. In 2021 she directed 3 short opera films created in an Overtone workshop where she and Overtone’s Executive Director, Fahad Siadat, guided three teams of composer/librettists in the development of scenes from their original operas for the launch of Overtone’s new mentoring program, Original Vision. Her aim is to make lasting works of art. www.o-lanjones.com
Emmett Tinley (Composer, Writer) is an Irish singer-songwriter. Through the 1990s he fronted the critically acclaimed Irish band The Prayer Boat before striking out on his own to forge a solo career. He signed to Atlantic Records in New York in 2000 and went on to re-release The Prayer Boat’s final album Polichinelle in the US in 2001 (Billboard Magazine Album of the Year). This was followed by his first solo album Attic Faith in 2005 which garnered rave reviews (“Up there with the albums of Rufus Wainwright or Jef Buckley…Truly sublime.” – Irish Times; “Tinley’s first solo album, (is) filled with beautiful soundscapes, lush strings and vocal harmonies…. it’s not contemporary rock, pop or country – it strikes one as a gentle and delicate attempt at beauty….” – Sunday Tribune). The album was also nominated for the Choice Music Prize for Best Irish Album of 2005.
2011 saw the release of a second solo album Emmett Tinley through Mass Market Recordings/ V2. The album was recorded in Los Angeles and Denmark and features one of Tinley’s most popular songs, “Takes A Long Time To Heal.” Shortly afterwards Tinley took some time away from recording and touring to pursue university degrees in anthropology and Middle East studies. It was also around this time that he began his collaboration on ICELAND with artistic director O-Lan Jones, initially writing original songs for the music theater production and eventually becoming involved in co-writing the story. The first act premiered at the New Original Works festival at REDCAT in Los Angeles in July 2014. A concert reading of the production premiered at the Ford Amphitheater in October 2016, with Emmett also making his stage acting debut in the leading male protagonist role. A second concert reading of ICELAND took place at the Boston Court in Pasadena in November 2018.
Tinley has since returned to recording and touring, and a new solo album originally planned for
2020 has been rescheduled for release in early 2022. www.emmett-tinley.com