An Interview with the Director of “The Hunt” on Tackling the Complexities of


The commencement of The Hunt commences by means of an audition. The official job advertisement states: His Majesty is in search of a flawless damsel to partake in the pursuit of the mythical creature known as the unicorn, whose capture will bestow great wealth upon our realm, expand our dominion, and grant us ultimate power over all adversarial forces. Three maidens, adorned in ethereal attire of pure white, their lustrous locks cascading over their shoulders, eloquently present their arguments as to why they are individually ideal candidates for this esteemed position. One possesses extensive knowledge on unicorn folklore due to her past occupation as a librarian, another excels in the field of botany (an occupation that should not be misconstrued with witchcraft, a common misperception), while the third maiden reigns as a social-media maven, her captivating presence attracting numerous followers.

The precise shade of influencer-ash-blonde is securely embraced by the locks. In unison, they harmonize a melody, glorifying the mythical creature known as the unicorn. Positioned on the outskirts of a castle, adjacent to a forest, await three individuals who possess pure innocence: Fleur (Brett Umlauf), Briar (Christiana Cole), and Rue (Hirona Amamiya). Their untainted nature is intended to entice the Unicorn, and upon its arrival, the virgins will administer a sedative in order to surrender it for dismemberment within the court. Regular updates, recorded via an iPhone accompanied by a portable ring light, promptly inform the court about ongoing proceedings. The King occasionally provides remarks, which the virgins collectively peruse, while their remaining time is largely spent idling.

preventing pain and endure the excruciating wait for the unicorn to make its long-awaited appearance. However, as time goes on and the unicorn remains elusive, anxiety creeps in among the maidens. The updates they provide become more forced, highlighting their growing unease. Doubts about their virginity are raised, and the messages from the King take a darker turn. A vague allusion is made to a surgery that promises to restore purity, albeit with some level of survivable discomfort, and their already scant meals are further diminished. Desperate to preserve their innocence, the virgins resort to consuming the medications originally intended for another purpose.

The incorporation of social media and medieval elements serves as the foundation for the wry and thought-provoking nature of this sophisticated and gratifying new chamber opera by Kate Soper. As a leading figure in contemporary opera for the last decade, Soper skillfully navigates the intersection of real-world analysis of internet culture and alluring medieval imagery. However, some individuals may find this juxtaposition less engaging. Personally, I felt that the opera struck an exquisite balance, seamlessly intertwining inquiries concerning women and representation. If you are receptive to Soper’s concept, The Hunt offers an enjoyable and intellectually stimulating operatic experience.

The Hunt, the third chamber opera commissioned by Columbia University’s Miller Theater, adds to the series that included Proving Up by Missy Mazzoli and Desire by Hannah Lash. In this particular creation, Soper draws inspiration from the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries at Cluny, as well as similar tapestries at the Cloisters, and the abundant legends surrounding virgins and unicorns found in medieval art and literature. However, this interpretation is far from simplistic. Soper sfully weaves works from various eras into her libretto, ranging from seventh-century theologian Isadore of Seville to the renowned poet Christina Rosetti.

a production that showcases the talent and ingenuity of its creators. Thibault of Champagne, a troubadour from the fifteenth century, serves as the inspiration for this piece. However, it is important to note that many of the words used in the performance are original creations by Soper. Throughout the production, riddles are plentiful, with some borrowed from the tenth-century Exeter Book, while others are specially crafted for this particular show. The suggestive nature of these riddles adds an intriguing hint of eroticism that is both immediate and foreign, a characteristic commonly found in medieval literature. The visual elements of the production, such as Aoshuang Zhang’s impressive sets and Camilla Tassi’s skillful projection and live-cam work, along with Ashley Tata’s simple yet impactful direction, all come together to create a captivating experience. In summary, The Hunt is a formally conducted presentation that brilliantly displays the artistic abilities and resourcefulness of its creative team.

What we can learn

In conclusion, Kate Soper’s latest creation, commissioned by Columbia University’s Miller Theater, adds another impressive installment to the series that featured works by Missy Mazzoli and Hannah Lash. Drawing inspiration from medieval tapestries and legends surrounding virgins and unicorns, Soper skillfully weaves together elements from different eras, including the works of Isadore of Seville and Christina Rosetti. The result is a complex and multi-layered libretto that defies simplicity. Soper’s ability to seamlessly integrate these influences is a testament to her artistic prowess and makes this composition a must-see for music enthusiasts and art lovers alike.


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