OPERA at the Watermill Center 2021, projects

Vase Project
Lucie Vítková, Vered Engelhard, Aine Eva Nakamura
Chair Project: Trailer
Featuring Lucie Vítková and Sophie Leetmaa – chairs; Aine Eva Nakamura – voice
Muyassar Kurdi

Muyassar Kurdi – painting/score

Collaboration with poet Candace Hill
Comb Making Project
Lucie Vítková, Sydney Viles, Aine Eva Nakamura, Sophie Leetmaa, Vered Engelhard
Comb Making Project
Vered Engelhard, Lucie Vítková, Sophie Leetmaa, Aine Eva Nakamura
Monkeys in the Edge of the World – score
Shelter Island
Collaboration with artist and musician Shane Weeks at the Shinnecock Reservation

Collaboration with artist Jeremy Dennis at the Shinnecock Reservation
Ma’s House
OPERA giving a workshop at the Watermill Center
OPERA giving a workshop at the Watermill Center

OPERA at the Watermill Center 2021, portrait

Featuring Lucie Vítková, Vered Engelhard and Sophie Leetmaa

The OPERA Ensemble at the Watermill Center Residency 2021

We were selected to participate with my project Environmental Music: Notation Practice about notation, sound, environment and interthings relationships by the Watermill Center Residency Committee for April-May 2021. We will focus on sonic expression in a composed environment and are going to work with objects from the gallery collection. Jane Bennett´s Vibrant Matter and assemblage on mind. This time with Aine Eva Nakamura, Carolyn Hietter, Stevie May, Sydney Viles, Elizabeth Adams, Vered Engelhard and Muyassar Kurdi.

[3rd July 2019] The OPERA Presents: The Ensemble of Conductors, Unnameable Books, Brooklyn, NYC: For this concert, the OPERA Ensemble will turn into the ensemble of conductors with Lucie Vítková, Stevie May, Elizabeth Adams, Carolyn Hietter, Vered Engelhard and Sydney Viles. The show starts at 6pm. Facebook.

The OPERA Ensemble at Unnameable Books.
Sydney Viles conducts through Hakees sack match.

Climate Concert/ Dead Horse Bay Research

As part of the Climate Change Concert activities, we made a journey to the Dead Horse Bay to pick up trash to make chimes for the concert and assemblages from found objects.

OPERA Ensemble on Climate change

Areté Gallery, 13th April 2019, 12.30pm

The OPERA Ensemble of singing instrumentalists will play pieces related to Climate Change, composed by the members of the ensemble such as Lucie Vítková, Stevie May, Vered Engelhard, Carolyn Hietter, Sydney Viles, Sky Macklay and Elizabeth Adams. The OPERA Ensemble was established in 2016 by Lucie Vítková, to play her whole evening piece OPERA during the series NEW+ADVENTUROUS at the Roulette Intermedium.

Lucie Vítková – accordion, hichiriki, voice
Sydney Viles – theremin, synthesizer, voice
Stevie May – trombone, voice
Carolyn Hietter – soprano and alto saxophone, voice
Elizabeth Adams – piano, voice
Vered Engelhard – percussion, shell, voice
Sky Macklay – oboe, voice

Program notes:

Mitigation and Adaptation by Stevie May

stevie may (she/her) is a new but enthusiastic skater girl who moonlights as an artist and daylights as an arts administrator and community organizer.

Realistically, our efforts to combat climate change will be neither entirely successful, nor entirely fruitless. No matter what outcomes we face, however, one thing is certain – our way of life must change. Ideally, we will change our behaviors now, willingly, in order to mitigate the effects of global warming, and minimize the damage and hardships we bring upon ourselves and the beings and organisms with which we share this planet. Should we fail, we will then be forced to adapt to increasingly harsher conditions of existence. Either by choice or by need, we will learn to alter our relationships toward resources and one another. Mitigation and Adaptation is a playful experiment that offers the possibility of enjoying behavorial shifts toward interdependence and the use of resources already at hand. The goal is to work against cultural values that condition us to prefer and desire individual achievement, and to introduce no new materials to the work.

The Earning Tree by Sky Macklay

Sky is a composer, oboist, installation artist, and educator who writes music that sometimes makes people laugh.

The Earning Tree is a fifth-grade school production in an imagined 2050s USA.

Lyrics:  Higher Ground

We must adapt

If we want to survive

Be intrepid eagles

Not just bees in a hive

We must be ready to move

And sever sentimental ties

We have the power to save ourselves

If we just open our eyes.

We’ve got to move to a higher ground. (move-a X7)

Move to a higher ground. (move-a X7) move!

Choir 1: Annie’s mom said “Annie, Annie, but my job is here!”

Choir 2: Annie said, “Mom you should move on now, your job is going to disappear.”

Choir 1: Annie’s dad said “Annie, I grew up here by the ocean!”

Choir 2: Annie said, “Time to reign in your illogical emotion.”

Choir 1: Annie’s grandma said “I can’t afford it, and what about my asthma”

Choir 2: “Grandma, maybe you can buy your meds if you just sell your plasma.”

Both: Plasma!

Let’s go to a place that’s more hospitable for humans



Sever emotional ties

And move to a higher, higher, higher ground (move-a move-a move-a move)!

Lyrics: The Perfect Tree

Annie studied hard

She was president of entrepreneurship team

So she was selected by Mr. Mogurt

He would help her chase her dream

Annie was invited to the Mogurt Mansion headquarters where she saw:

The perfect tree

Lives in Mr. Mogurt’s yard

The perfect tree

Is protected by his security guard

Oh, it’s so tall and green and pretty

Towering over all the city

The perfect tree

Some day when we’re all adults

We’ll work so hard we’ll get results

And we’ll each be able to buy our own

Perfect tree

(spoken): That’s what Annie did!

The perfect tree

Lives in Annie’s yard today

The perfect tree

Creates jobs for all of the people she pays

Gardeners, guards, and ticket takers

Trash pickers and content makers

The Perfect tree

Annie’s company Higher Ground Relocation

Re-homes climate refugees from all across the nation

Move now, pay later (with interest of course)

And some day maybe you can buy a perfect tree

On your higher, higher, higher ground!

some varieties of mutual aid by Elizabeth Adams

Living in contradiction has led Elizabeth to pursue systems change and interdependence through art, organizing, and non-traditional learning.

I am trying to see how the systems threatening our planet rely, for their reproduction, on my responses to those around me in the midst of crises the systems create. My responses are conditioned, I don’t doubt. A different system would entail entirely different responses from me. What might those be? I walk the tightrope of understanding our oppression as structural and conceiving of ourselves as agents of the kind change that requires collective action. We must catch each other and get back on.

Whales and Cargo by Sydney Viles

Sydney Viles thinks about nonverbal communication, early childhood, and the power of love.

Many of the things we love to buy arrive to us via cargo ships. These international imports/exports are classified by a six-digit code within the Harmonized System.

“Ambient marine noise due to shipping, drilling for oil, and Navy sonar has increased by a magnitude of two over the last sixty years. This means that for a blue whale that was born sixty years ago, the distance over which her vocalizations can travel and the vocalizations of others can be heard by her has decreased from 1,600 km at the time of her birth to 160 km at present…Everything from migration patterns, to feeding, to mating is affected, and critics of marine noise consistently deploy the same word to describe the effect of human activity on marine mammals: stress.” (Grebowicz, 63)

Grebowicz, Margret. Whale Song. Bloomsbury Academic, an Imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Inc, 2017.

Incremental Invertebrate Invasion by Carolyn Hietter

Carolyn Hietter is presently interpreting disparity in systems of financial and linguistic exchange, and its relationship to the hoarding of potential energy and resonant metals.

celestial cascade the jellies, with umbrella shaped bells. broken umbrellas thrashing

through the atmosphere on a blustery manhattan boneless spineless eyeless

bloodless medusa! pulsate still water protruding tongue for a penetration of the


choked & o-less invasion By the pelagic real estate mogul light and dark detector

where one side heals and other a viscious poison from whence to which we plastic

first blocking the cooling filters in the stop be the clog we’re surrounded environed

by the ment the Mint, cool down but if you pee on yourself drowned in a pool of his

own men of war the great connector continental cartilage united by venom d’accord,

abandoned acoustic thermometry glub glub glub glub glub glub and our own heads

and our own gaze as weapons refashioned by wisdom, for War, clogged the filter

& globes


& sphere


& oil throughout

The Wolves Must Survive by Lucie Vítková

Lucie Vítková has visions about eating earth and mud and makes food which looks alike or has similar texture.

I´ve read a story about wolves in the National Yellowstone Park[1]. In the story, they were talking about the impact of wolves on numbers and behavior of the deer population and the whole ecosystem, which brought lots of changes for the area, such as the vegetation started to grow again and the birds and other species came back into the location. Surprisingly, the impact was on a bigger scale as well. The wolves influenced the behavior of the rivers and their banks got more solid and stabilized.

In the piece, I want to follow this interconnectivity of systems, their behaviors and inherent relationships and the consequences of influence. There is a large floor graphic score which is filtered through reading of another graphic score/chart in which the players have to be aware of each other as well as to be independent while following their part. I drew the ground score with expired makeup products and I also reuse metal cans to filter voices of the performers, either to mute them or to cause a distortion by playing with its resonant frequencies and preparations. The graphic scores could represent the environment (floor score) and the society (ensemble score) and different relationships between them. 

The process of reading is so complex that it implodes the players into the piece, so they don’t have the capacity to perform music but more to do music or sonically dissolve in the possibilities of relationships. This complexity of the piece can be also taken as training for everyday life situations to uncover the perception of reality on more levels.

The title of the piece The Wolves Must Survive, is partly influenced by an interview with Derrick Jensen (ecological activist)[2]. He sees demonstrations as ineffective and suggests that we should choose something in the nature and protect it, because forests and rivers are under the attack. So I was thinking about the wolves and their influence on the rivers and wanted to pronounce their survival through the title of the piece, as they are an important part of the ecosystem. The wolves are also connected with my imagination of the OPERA Ensemble, since I see us more as a pack, trying to survive in the patriarchal society and using our voices towards change.

[1] https://ethology.eu/how-wolves-change-rivers/

[2] https://wave.rozhlas.cz/protesty-za-klima-k-nicemu-nevedou-resenim-je-rozbit-civilizaci-tvrdi-ekofilozof-7786758

Rising Tides by Vered Engelhard

Vered Engelhard (they/them) is at home in the open ocean ~writing, sounding, moving to calibrate frequencies with the floating, the sinking, and the swimming in between.

The shore is the site of contestation of the many phenomena we consider to be climate change. A constantly shifting habitat for the human and the natural, the living and the residual, the shore is the moving limit where we come to meet the constant infinite. An earthly trembling that causes a sinking stone, a floating dyke on the rising tide, and running winds greet in a disturbingly beautiful catastrophe, for some. For others, a series of tragedies thus:

From Etel Adnan, The Arab Apocalyspe

Ishi, the last remaining member of the Yahi people of the northern Pacific coast. A state-run genocide prevented these people from becoming the environmental refugees of the future, for which the corporations that run the state are to blame. This piece is an elegy. It is a plea for finding forms of mass organization against corporate pollution patters at a distance from the state. This verse was washed out to its vowels, becoming the libretto of the piece. The material for the instruments was sourced from various trips to the shore, where we established new bonds between people by means of our trash. Strangers from past centuries are in this room. The rising tide, a reminder of what binds us and a call to honor it.

The OPERA premiere at the Roulette, Brooklyn, NYC. April 12, 2017.

Czech composer Lucie Vítková presents OPERA, a new piece for singing instrumentalists from The OPERA Ensemble. The piece will take the traditional musical form of opera filled by contemporary and experimental musical materials, written for singing musicians playing harp, saxophone, flute, theremin, accordion, and oboe. OPERA is based on utopian thinking and its environment includes sound, visuals, fashion and movement. The libretto of the piece is based on texts by Italian feminist and philosopher Adriana Cavarero. The texts are about voice and uniqueness and in the piece are expressed via Morse code.

Lucie Vítková – Composer, Accordion,Voice
Sophie Leetmaa – Harp, Voice
Sydney Viles – Theremin, Voice
Martha Cargo – Flutes, Voice
Sky Macklay – Oboe, Voice
Carolyn Hietter – Saxophones, Voice

Composer, Improviser, Performer