Kilter’s groundbreaking, unconventional Opera, “La Suspendida,” has been transformed into a book by well-known author and radio commentator, William Berger. The book, titled “The Story Of María Elena” and Kilter’s Jazz-Metal Opera “La Suspendida,” goes far beyond simply publishing the Opera’s memorable and sometimes disturbing libretto. Instead, Berger has opted to expand upon the lore by creating a fictionalised version of the events upon which “La Suspendida” was based. In his book, he breathes new life into the unsettling true story of an obsessive caregiver who kept the body of a deceased woman as a lover. Berger also provides a deeper look into the production of the opera itself through the lens of personal essays from the opera’s composers and others involved in the project.
With “The Story of María Elena” and Kilter’s Jazz-Metal Opera “La Suspendida,” Berger gives readers an elaborate and complex backdrop for an opera that eschews norms in favor of providing the audience with a truly singular experience. The renowned author describes the character of María Elena as “an abused cadaver who is… finally able to take a stand for self-actualization and empowerment.” In this tragic character, Berger says he found the perfect leading role: “The amazing thing is that as we unpacked the musical and narrative possibilities in this character, we realized we’d created the definitive diva role.”
As the Opera’s composers, Kilter played a pivotal role in the creation of “La Suspendida.” The production combines multiple genres, from jazz to metal and beyond. Kilter’s bassist, Laurent David, says that he and the band employed all of the tools at their disposal to create the production’s unforgettable music. This included calling in a few favors from fellow performers and musicians. Andromeda Anarchia, the Growler’s Choir, and the string quartet Seven)Suns were all heavily involved in the collaborative creative process that led to “La Suspendida.” The final result is what Laurent David aptly describes as “a unique and powerful work of experimental opera that pushes the boundaries of what is possible in terms of musical style and narrative structure.”
While the Opera has not been staged as a full-fledged production just yet, Kilter, Berger, and their collaborators hope to bring “La Suspendida” to life in a big way in the near future. In the meantime, librettist William Berger has provided a deep dive into the creation of the project in “The Story of María Elena” and Kilter’s Jazz Metal Opera “La Suspendida” that feels both fascinating and essential. The book is now available via Berger’s website and Silent Pendulum Records, which will also be distributing the soon-to-be-released cast recording.
The cutting-edge, genre-of-one Jazz-Metal Opera “La Suspendida” has a story behind it – in every sense. The Opera is based on a notorious incident in history: a doctor in Florida obsessed on a patient even after her death, keeping her corpse as his wife for years before he was finally compelled to bury her. However, the drama is centered on her story as a character who is both alive and dead – “suspended,” in a sense. The Opera’s libretto and a fictionalization with historical background are included here. But so is the story behind the opera – how a group of very different people came together to write this, and some of the many ideas and issues at stake in the work’s creation.
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