The Veil of Forgetfulness

                         Brooklyn Repertory Opera
                  622A President Street, Brooklyn, NY 11215-1141

CONTACT: Brett Wynkoop (917-642-6925)	                    January 15, 2010

                          FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

                             WORLD PREMIERE

                        The Veil of Forgetfulness
                   Libretto and Music by Susan Stoderl
                Real-Time Art Installation by Sarah Olson
                February 27 and 28, March 6 and 7, 3:00 PM

In medieval Britain, Sister Regina is determined to become Abbess of 
Shaftesbury. As time grows short, little does Regina know that she will 
be forced to choose between saving Abbess Marie and her mystical band of 
heretics or fulfilling her quest for power. As the music moves from the 
mysterious and hypnotic to joyous and soaring, Lay Sister Sarah depicts 
the inner workings of this cloistered community.

Brooklyn Repertory Opera has two occasions to celebrate-a new 
home at Littlefield, located near Park Slope's Union Street 
subway stop, in Brooklyn, New York, and a world premiere! BRO is pleased 
to present Susan Stoderl's The Veil of Forgetfulness, a 21st century 
mystical opera in two acts, for eight women's voices, chamber orchestra, 
chorus, and a real-time art installation by Sarah Olson. Performances 
will be on February 27 and 28, and March 6 and 7, 3:00 PM, at 
Littlefield, 622 Degraw Street (between 3rd and 4th Avenue), 
Brooklyn, New York, 11217. An art installation created in real time by 
artist Sarah Olson (http://www.Sarah-Olson.com), will depict the inner 
thoughts of the characters. The composer, Susan Stoderl 
(http://www.SusanStoderl.net), will serve as conductor of the work. 
Stage direction will be provided by Charmaine Chester. General admission is 
$20, students and seniors $10. Tickets may be purchased online at 
http://www.bropera.org.  Depression-special tickets for the unemployed 
may be purchased for $5 by anyone presenting a current unemployment 
insurance check stub at the box office on the day of the performance 
(limit one ticket per purchaser). Detailed directions to the theater can 
be found at http://www.littlefieldnyc.com/directions. 

This project is sponsored in part by the Greater New York Arts 
Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, 
administered by the Brooklyn Arts Council, Inc. (BAC).

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Brief Synopsis

Set in Shaftesbury Abbey, 1199 C.E., The Veil of Forgetfulness tells the 
story of Abbess Marie and her band of spiritual renegades as they 
struggle against the stranglehold of the codified Medieval Church, as 
personified by the dogmatic Sister Regina. These "Keepers" of The Veil 
of Forgetfulness must find and initiate their seventh member before they 
are denounced as heretics. When the mystical group reaches seven members 
and a new First Keeper is found, the Keepers will ascend to eternal 
bliss, completely enlightened and freed from further incarnations. If 
all seven members cannot be initiated before their death, or if the Veil 
falls into evil hands, the cloth returns to its original tiny square and 
the process begins again, trapping the Keepers in a wretched cycle of 

Abbess Marie, the First Keeper of the Veil, is secretly the famous 
twelfth-century poet Marie de France and bastard sister of King Henry 
II. Regina was once the mistress of King Henry and was promised the 
position of Abbess upon their parting. The sisters have lived with their 
secrets in close proximity, with little privacy, for many long years. 
For some it is a gift, but for Sister Regina it is a bitter trial, of 
which she intends to be the victor.

Each Keeper fulfills the call of the Veil, a summoning from an older 
teaching of the Divine to serve and better mankind unconditionally, by 
choosing to practice a spiritual lesson that comes from the tragic or 
flawed lives they have led. In this way, they aid man's progression 
along the many and diverse spiritual paths, particularly in times of 
intolerance and hatred. Now, before the seventh member dies and the 
soldiers arrive, the Keepers must, without her knowing, teach Regina the 
ways of the Veil and entice her to become the new First Keeper. Will 
Regina choose to continue her quest for power or will she answer the 
Veil's call?

Who Was Marie de France?

Few know I am Marie of France,
Who writes of legends and romance.
From their towers and from their shroud,
Woman's whispers I tell aloud.

		Abbess Marie, Act I, Scene 1

The Norman poetess, Marie de France (ca. 1136/7-1216), was famous for 15 
lais (romantic tales of love set in octo-syllabic verse). Her human 
insight as well as her well-known stature as a woman writer were quite 
unique at the time. Through these lais she helped expand such famous 
legends as King Arthur, and Tristan and Iseult. Her stories described 
and commented upon what many women faced in their feminine roles during 
this time. Often this was quite contrary to Church teachings.

In addition to the lais, Marie de France translated into French The 
Ysopet, a collection of 103 fables originally translated from Latin into 
English by Henry Beauclerc.

Her religious texts include The Purgatory of Saint Patrick and The Life 
of St. Audrey. The first tells of an Irish knight, who upon his descent 
into a cavern, witnesses both torment and happiness. The second work is 
a hagiographic text describing the life of Saint Audrey.

Exactly who the real Marie de France was is unknown. One theory, 
although not the most prevalent, is that she was Marie, Abbess of 
Shaftesbury, and/or the illegitimate sister of King Henry II.

The characters found in The Veil of Forgetfulness have been inspired by 
the lais of the historical Marie de France. Her stories have been 
altered to fit this story. The lais can be found in published book form 
as well as on the Internet in Anglo-Norman French, in rhymed English, 
and in story form.

The character of Abbess Marie is inspired by one of the lesser-favored 
theories of her actual identity. The real Abbess Mary of Shaftesbury 
lived until 1216, becoming Abbess in 1189. For purposes of this story, 
the years were slightly altered and she is Marie de France.


Abbess Marie: Kathleen Keske & Lorene Phillips

Regina: Tracy Bidleman & Tamara Cashour

Azenora: Barrett Cobb & Suzannah Ancellr

Dympha: Pamela Scanlon & Ilya Speranza

Margarette: Marcella Caprario & Christine Reimer

Brigid: Evan Crawford & Kember Lattimer

Deborah: Erin Carr & Gretchen Mundinger

Joan: Nika Leoni & Ruth Ann Cunningham

Sarah (Artist): Sarah Olson

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