composed by Alessandro Stradella
Heartbeat Opera & Opera Lafayette
directed by Ethan Heard
set: Reid Thompson
lighting: Oliver Wason
photos: Russ Rowland & Louis Forget
Stradella’s oratoria is based on the biblical story in which two judges desire the beautiful Susanna. When she rejects their advances, they exploit their power in an attempt to destroy her in court.
Originally conceived with a male narrator and male savior, the prophet Daniel, Stradella’s seductive oratorio from 1681 becomes a startlingly powerful opera for today, when those roles are recast as women—a scholar of women’s studies, presenting a talk on Susanna, and her student assistant, who, after becoming increasingly frustrated with the order generations’ inadequate responses, interrupts and intervenes in the story herself.