If you’ve ever wondered what a “multi-media, multi-genre psychedelic opera” looks and sounds like, then you’ll want to check out the latest creation by Pete Muldoon: “As the Beast and Dragon Clash” (August 11th @ Anacostia Arts Center). We had Pete in the studio, along with our good friend Sitali (who voices the dragon), to discuss how this adventurous debut came together.
After completing music degrees at University of DC and Howard University, Pete has been lighting it up for years as one of the top jazz guitarists in the DC area (voted “Best Guitar Player” by Washington City Paper in 2013). But there was something else tugging at his creativity: opera. He became obsessed with Wagner’s “Die Valkure”, binge-watching the entire cycle. Pete sketched out his own dystopian vision of human existence nearing total collapse, and began composing and hustling.
It took three pitches to the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities before they agreed to partially fund this project, and it has been on overdrive ever since, growing into a true community project featuring some of DC’s finest musicians, animators, production crews and more. In addition to Sitali, this production includes the voices of Raheem DeVaughn, Imani-Grace Cooper, Courtney Dowe and Yaya Balbed, as well as musicians DeAndre Shaifer (trumpet), Dante Pope (drums), Elliot Sepa (bass), Allyn Johnson (keys) and of course Pete on guitar. Iain Welland produced the graphics and 3D animation which will be incorporated throughout using 3 projectors. Dance sequences are choreographed by Gwendolyn Gardner with stage production by The Beaten Path and music production at Allyn Johnson’s Divine Order Studios.
This opera is a tour-de-force of community organizing and choc-o-bloc with DC heavies, so the debut staging on August 11 at the Anacostia Arts Center will be a must-see event! Check out our interview and links below to learn more from Pete Muldoon and Sitali, and hear some unreleased songs from the opera including Sitali’s resonant turn as The Dragon.
[Click play at the top of this post to hear our interview with Pete Muldoon]