From screen to stage
MIT’s Jay Scheib and Keeril Makan turn the famous film “Persona” into a new opera.
"I was fascinated by the concept of using a multi-dimensional object [the film] as material," says Scheib, a professor and the director of the Theater Arts program.
Ingmar Bergman’s “Persona” is regarded as a classic of 20th-century cinema, a powerful and enigmatic exploration of the human psyche in turmoil. Now, thanks to MIT theater director Jay Scheib and MIT composer Keeril Makan, here comes “Persona,” the opera.
That’s right: “Persona,” a film famous partly because of its use of silence — the lead character has gone mute — has a new incarnation that rewards close listening, in the form of Scheib’s libretto and Makan’s score. Now their project, which they began in 2009, is set to debut this month. The opera version of “Persona” will have a workshop performance at MIT on Oct. 17, then a formal premiere at the National Sawdust theater in Brooklyn, New York, on Oct. 23 and 24.
"I was fascinated by the concept of using a multi-dimensional object [the film] as material," says Scheib, a professor and the director of the Theater Arts program at MIT, who originally had the idea of adapting the film.
Makan, as the composer, says it was very much the abundance of silence in Bergman’s “Persona” that led him to think an opera version of the story was possible.
Photo by Scott Irvine