Audio for this feature is no longer available. To listen to a live performance of selections from the opera performed in the Soundcheck studio, click here.
You might not be familiar with the early-20th century adventurer Isabelle Eberhardt -- but her dramatic story is one that seems tailor-made for chronicling by way of opera. The Swiss adventurer only lived until the age of 27, but during her short lifetime converted to Islam and decided to explore the deserts of North Africa dressed as a man, joining a secret Sufi brotherhood and nearly losing her arm in an assassination attempt. She documented her experiences in journals -- which were salvaged after her death in a flash flood in Algeria.
Brooklyn composer Missy Mazzoli (who herself isn’t much older than Eberhardt was when she died in 1904) tells her tale in “Song From the Uproar: The Lives and Deaths of Isabelle Eberhardt,” a multimedia chamber opera which premiered earlier this year. Now, the original cast recording -- featuring mezzo-soprano Abigail Fischer and the modern chamber group NOW Ensemble -- is set to be released on November 13 on New Amsterdam Records.
The song “You Are The Dust” takes place about three-quarters of the way through the opera. “This is a song that Isabelle is singing about her lover -- she fell deeply in love with an Algerian soldier -- but I think that she always struggled to reconcile her independent nature with her intense love for this man,” Mazzoli told us on Soundcheck earlier this year. “This is a song about the pain of leaving him to roam the desert alone.”
The track “You Are the Dust” from Missy Mazzoli’s Song From the Uproar will stream exclusively on our site until next Tuesday, October 23. Missy Mazzoli will perform with her ensemble Victoire as a part of New Sounds Live! at World Financial Center on Wednesday, October 24. For more information about this free event, click here.