Last week saw the World Premier of David Hertzberg’s operatic production inspired by Aleister Crowley’s fairy tale – “The Wake World. It was staged in the Annenberg Court of the Barnes Foundation museum, which is situated on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia’s “museum row.” The action took place on an extended catwalk that ran the length of the court under a high vaulted ceiling. The players slipped on and off the catwalk, moving through the audience who were encouraged to sit, stand and move around the court following the action – as the composer David Hertzberg told me “Do what thou wilt!”
Hertzberg’s libretto was rooted in and inspired by the text of Crowley’s original fairy tale but did not follow it slavishly. The performers delivered their lines with enormous power, obvious technical finesse and, it appeared, genuine gusto. meanwhile their lines were projected onto the ceiling to insure that the audience could follow along.
The original story follows the journey of Lola, accompanied by her “fairy prince” through various palaces till she arrives in the “Wake World.” It’s a thinly disguised description of a soul’s progress to full enlightenment, travelling the Tree of Life through the respective Sephiroth. It’s hard to say how many of the audience deciphered that subtext but the performance was received enthusiastically by all. Meanwhile for those with some knowledge of the Mysteries this was a powerful representation of the initiatic process. I gotta admit that I got verklemmt when they started projecting poetic rephrasing of lines from Liber AL and the Most Holy and Most Beloved Father in the Lord who was in attendance said he felt likewise.
Here’re some pictures by Soror Amy