Robin Rhode – Erwartung: A Street Opera

Performa, New York, NY


Production Grant

Commissioned as part of the 2015 edition of renowned performance art biennial Performa, Robin Rhode’s Erwartung: A Street Opera reimagined Arthur Schoenberg’s atonal opera about love, loss, and longing in the context of South African women separated from their husbands by the migrant labor system, political exile, activism, and imprisonment. Rhode’s version was staged in a pedestrian pathway in New York City’s Time Square, adapting Schoenberg’s original dark forest setting to contemporary Manhattan and activating the city streets in a highly unique way.

A multidisciplinary artist known for using quotidian materials such as chalk, soap, and charcoal to create arrestingly beautiful narratives, Rhode used a set created from reclaimed doors from South African homes to transform the urban landscape into an evocative domestic space, inhabited only by one woman and a man whom we never hear. Conducted by Maestro Arturo Tamayo, performed by the renowned French soprano Carole Sidney Louis and Berlin-based actor Moses Leo, and described by Schönberg himself as a 30-second anxiety attack extended musically into a 30-minute opera, Erwartung invites us inside an encounter of pain and perseverance that threads between the past and present.

For more information, visit Performa 15.

Robin Rhode, Arnold Schönberg’s Erwartung – A Performance by Robin Rhode, 2015. A Performa Commission. Photo by Paula Court, courtesy of Performa.