“Annunciation + Visitation” is a performance combining seemingly incongruent musical compositions with experimental staging, and the significant use of new technologies. The project explores how technology can be thematically integrated into the dramatic and musical arts, while at the same time confronting issues relevant to the contemporary social and political discourse. The work depicts two vastly different expressions of female sexuality. It stretches the boundaries of what defines “opera”, breaking new ground as it defies genre classification, seeks to synthesize art and technology in increasingly deeper ways, and serves as an example of how opera can be a force for social commentary, dialogue, and change.

The two combined works, songs by preeminent American composer George Crumb and the Lecons de Tenebre of Francois Couperin, will be presented in two free performances in the Fall of 2009 at the Buskirk Chumley Theater for the Indiana University and Bloomington communities. The performance will feature video projection design by Hope School of Fine Arts Professor Margaret Dolinsky, students from Jacobs School of Music, award winning American Opera Theater's artistic director Timothy Nelson and performers Rebecca Duren and Emily Noel, and technical and programming support from the Pervasive Technologies Institute Advanced Visualization Lab.

In combining all of these diverse artists, the project not only explores new methods for combining art and technology, but also provides students the opportunity to work with eminent professionals, and offers the wider Indiana University community a glimpse at the innovative future of opera – expanding conceptualization and understanding of the role of the performing arts.

The final component of the production is a panel conference following the Saturday matinee performances on the topic of how opera can be a relevant force for social change in the America of the new millennium. Together this panel of distinguished artists from diverse backgrounds and experiences will explore what it is that keeps opera relevant, and how opera can remain a powerful part of the social dialogue, particularly through its combination with new technologies.

“Annunciation + Visitation” is the continuation of a collaboration between artist Margaret Dolinsky and director Timothy Nelson. The first collaboration was presented in January 2007 at the IU Art Museum, entitled “Fleury”. This was the first attempt at thematically combining projected scenography with new approaches to stage action in ways that not merely incorporated projections, but made them virtual sets with which performers could interact. This new work takes that idea to the next level, creating a visual narrative that runs alongside the performers, but also with which they directly engage. From its inception, opera as a genre has always been on the forefront of scenic technologies and advancements. “Annunciation + Visitation” is another step on the path to forging a future for opera, questioning not only what opera is, but also what the experience is on a fundamental visual and psychological level for the audience.