Thursday, September 28, 2000

Classical piece incorporates computer

Premiere at UC accessible onscreen

By Janelle Gelfand
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        For the first time from the University of Cincinnati, a performance will appear live on the Internet.

        Clotho, about the life of Camille Claudel, is a monodrama for soprano, percussion and computer. It is written and directed by Dagmar Birke. The musical score was composed by College-Conservatory of Music faculty members Allen Otte, founding director of Percussion Group Cincinnati, and Mara Helmuth, director of CCM's Center for Computer Music.

    What: Clotho for soprano, percussion and computer, a monodrama on the life of Camille Claudel, by Dagmar Birke; music by Allen Otte and Mara Helmuth; costumes from the Donna Karan Collection. Audrey Luna, soprano.
    When: 8 p.m. today and Friday.
    Where: Studio Theater, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
    Tickets: $5. 556-4183.
    On the Internet: At 8 p.m. today, Clotho will be streamed live to Internet2, at (online producer, Tom Streeter).
        The Enquirer spoke to soprano Audrey Luna, assistant professor at Miami University, who commissioned and stars in the production.

        Question: Why is this piece entitled Clotho (Klo-to)?

        Answer: Clotho is the title of a sculpture by Camille Claudel, a French sculptress at the turn of the (20th) century. She had a love affair with Auguste Rodin for 10 years.

        She was outspoken, independent and a genius. It is based on letters by Miss Claudel, her brother (the author) Paul Claudel and Rodin, her lover. The writings are interwoven with Baudelaire's poems from Les Fleurs du Mal.

        The writings tell the story of her artistry, then her demise in a mental asylum.

        Q: How can people log on?

        A: It's going to happen over the Internet2 line, different from the World Wide Web. People who have Internet2 (such as universities) will receive a clear picture and CD-quality sound. It will be filmed with three cameras; two stationary and one hand-held.

        Q: How will you and percussionist Allen Otte perform it?

        A: Allen will have his set-up on the stage. I play the part of Camille Claudel. Computer-generated sound (processed from natural sources) will play throughout the performance.

        It's like a scenically-broken song cycle, so there will be poem that is sung, and then a dramatic scene, a song, and another dramatic scene.

        Sound worlds were created by Mara Helmuth from recordings of my voice and a chorus of voices: CCM professor Kenneth Griffiths (the voice of Paul Claudel); arts patron Patricia Corbett (Camille's mother); and Allen Otte (Rodin).

        Q: How did you get costumes from New York designer Donna Karan?

        A: My cousin is one of her personal assistants. She has an archive library of historic costumes, mostly 19th-century. She has collected them to use as prototypes for fabrics or new fashion lines. So she has this whole warehouse of historic clothing.

        Q: Why did you decide to commission a piece?

        A: Because I love new pieces of art. And I love new music, and new theatrical ideas. I'm the performer, the singer and the producer. It was incredible, the amount of work to put it together. It was really monumental. I had no idea.

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