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Christopher Cerrone's "Invisible Cities" in LA's Union Station

Invisible Cities, an opera by Christopher Cerrone, has gained a lot of press attention since its October 19th premiere-- including a review in the LA Times, televisionblog and radio coverage, and hundreds of photos on Instagram. Produced by The Industry and the LA Dance Project, Invisible Cities is being performed in Los Angeles' historic Union Station, with the sound of the orchestra and singers sent to wireless headphones, which are distributed to the audience and provided by Sennheiser. 

During the seventy-minute work, two hundred audience members are given headphones and allowed to roam the train station, which in addition to the opera's eight singers and eleven instrumentalists, is also open to the commuting public. Based on Italo Calvino's novel of the same name, the opera explores Marco Polo's travels to lands of increasing virtual potential through conversation with Kublai Khan, a magical realist imagining of the limitless possibilities afforded by travel, both real and imaginary. Set in a regional center for inter-city travel, Invisible Cities blurs the line between personal and collective reality, taking over the audience's sense of hearing while leaving the rest of their body to explore a space both real and imaginary at the same time. 

Cerrone's music, with its inward focus, use of electronics, and deep sense of magical reality, is a perfect fit for this production, which embodies and aesthetic developed in other works like The Night Mare and How to Breathe Underwater. Other works, such as Hoyt-Schemerhorn and Harriman, both for piano and electronics, lend themselves to headphone listening: using field recordings and other techniques to evoke a sense of place, they position the listener both within the composition's imagined space and without it, an ephemeral, un-rooted experience similar to that of experiencing Invisible Cities.

The opera’s run was extended by five performances, all of which sold out, but two shows have been added for Sunday, November 3, including a free performance. Be sure to keep an eye out for audience members' social media on Instagram, Vine, and Twitter. Also, check out this documentary by Artbound for a behind-the-scenes look at this production of Invisible Cities.

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