Tim Hinck’s operatic “Eve Apart” questions and challenges preconceptions.
Some archetypes are powerful beyond our conscious mind’s ability to articulate the reason why. Such a one is Lilith, portrayed in medieval Jewish folklore and writings as Adam’s first wife, created at the same time as he, from the same earth. In these legends, Lilith refuses to subjugate herself to Adam and leaves the Garden of Eden, thus causing God to create the more cooperative (at least initially) Eve.
But the earliest versions of Lilith go back much farther—to the bird goddess of the Sumerians and ultimately to the Goddess-worshipping Paleothic Age. In modern stories, Lilith is usually portrayed as evil—even demonic. In the new opera/alt musical theatre piece “Eve Apart” by Tim Hinck, with libretto by Kip Soteres, Lilith is neither evil nor good. She simply is: primeval, untamed, powerful.
Hinck explains that this new work is continuing to explore his interest in gender issues. “I like to work with archetypes…[in this case], Eve,” he says. “Our perception of her. How we integrate that perception into the family environment.”
Hinck was approached at the same time by Artisti Affamati, a group promoting and performing opera, and by poet Kip Soteres about creating a new piece, he says, and was immediately struck by how the two ideas could coalesce. Opera in Chattanooga, he believes, needs to be “re-energized and rebuilt,” with themes and work that can attract a young audience, along with traditional opera-lovers.
At a rehearsal about a week before the show’s opening, cast, orchestra, director and stage manager are all getting used to a new space: The Circle Stage at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre where “Eve Apart” will have four performances before moving to Pittsburgh for three more. AstroTurf covers part of the floor and two white scrims face each other across the space, one masking the orchestra players.
As in all rehearsals at this stage, detail and timing are key. The actors rehearse and re-rehearse bringing in wooden barriers. A section involving Lilith, Adam and the Chorus is slightly re-blocked for clarity and emphasis. “It also helps that you are not singing in my ear,” jokes mezzo-soprano Sara Snider Schone, playing Lilith. “Opera singers at close quarters!” says Hinck, and everyone chuckles.
Yet even with no costumes and with the rhythms of the piece constantly interrupted and, in some cases, altered, moments that raise goosebumps happen. The voices soar and pierce. The orchestra, composed of a number of outstanding Chattanooga musicians, instantly responds to Hinck’s requests for tempo and level changes. A new work is taking shape.
“This piece is really about war; it’s a power struggle,” Hinck says. Asked about the potentially provocative nature of the work, he responds, “People who have gotten involved in the work find it provocative for different reasons [than the obvious]. We’re taking on issues that can be interpreted in uncomfortable ways.
“If the stories [that ‘Eve Apart’ is based on] aren’t true, what does it mean that we invented them?”
Provocative indeed. See for yourself at the CTC this weekend.
The production features Sara Snider Schone, Desiree Soteres, David Tahere, Michael Dexter, Laura Sage, Caitlin Hammon, Marianna Allen, Jason O’Neal and Blaine Tooley.
8 p.m. Sept. 4-6, 2:30 p.m. Sept. 7.
Chattanooga Theatre Centre,
400 River St., (423) 267-8534,