HER | alive.un.dead (2020-2023)

Commission: Guerilla Opera

Supported by:
OPERA America Commissioning Grant for Women Composers Award
National Endowment for the Arts Grants for Arts Projects Award
New Music USA Creator Development Fund Support
Boston Foundation (and partners Barr Foundation and Dunamis Boston) Live Arts Boston Grant

Development Partners:
deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum
Trinity Episcopal Parish, Newton Center

Artistic Team:
Emily Koh – composer and librettist
Mo Zhou – stage director
Nora Wang – projections designer
Keithlyn B Parkman – lighting designer
Aliana de la Guardia – Guerilla Opera artistic director

HER/NURSE2 – soprano
HER2 – soprano
MUM/NURSE/ONE – mezzo-soprano
DAD/DOCTOR/TWO – baritone

baritone saxophone

Duration: 90 minutes

Libretto Reading: December 20 2020 | Guerilla Opera | Virtual

Concert Reading/Performance: July 14 2022 | Guerilla Opera | deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln MA

Staging/Technical Workshop: July 18 2022 | Guerilla Opera | Mosesian Center for the Arts, Watertown MA


check back in for more details in Spring 2023

About the Opera: 
HER | alive.un.dead is a concert-length multimedia surrealist opera following three generations of Asian women
in a single family through the sacrifices they make in the name of love. Through birth and death cycles in the family and encounters in a space called the “In-Between”, these women expound on gender biases against women and explore the clash of Eastern and Western as a result of immigration and generational perspectives.

Composer’s Note: 
HER | alive.un.dead is brings together so many of my interests and obsessions, many of which have been central pillars of focus for my creative energies for decades–existential philosophy, female ghosts and horror, the roles and identity of women, filtered Chinese-ness, immigrant stories, and generational trauma. Most directly, the ideas in HER | alive.un.dead stemmed from two previous operatic works. At the End of the End (2009) was a film-noir inspired work set entirely in the “In-Between”, in which several characters expound on the meanings of life, as experienced after dying. Generations (2011) was a split-stage production of four generations of women in a single family, set in both the times of the Korean war and Modern day, and based on the lives of my librettist-collaborator’s family.

In writing/composing this work as an Singaporean-Chinese-Peranakan woman, immigrant (to the US), second-generation (in Singapore), the only female sibling and the ‘black sheep of the family’, and internalizing the lived experiences of such, I have learned much about who I am, who I want to be, and the difficult roads the women in my family had taken for me to be here. I hope to one day meet them in the “In-Between”, and be united in our collective grit, strength and power.