Invisible Cities (film and album)



Music and libretto by Christopher Cerrone
Based on the novel by Italo Calvino

Produced, Engineered, Mixed, and Mastered by Nick Tipp
Conducted by Marc Lowenstein

Cedric Berry — Kublai Khan
Ashley Faatoalia — Marco Polo
Delaram Kamareh — Woman 1
Ashley Knight — Woman 2
Maria Elena Altany, Stephen Anastasia, Sarah Beaty, Cale Olson — Ensemble

Matt Barbier – Trombone
Eric KM Clark – Violin
Andrew McIntosh – Viola
Jodie Landau – Percussion
Clare Longendyke – Piano II
Jillian Risigari-Gai – Harp
Derek Stein – Cello
Richard Valitutto – Piano I
Brian Walsh – Clarinet
Sarah Wass – Flute
Jacob Wilder – Horn

Executive Producer Yuval Sharon
Graphic Design and Packaging by Traci Larson

Based on the novel Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. © 1972 by Italo Calvino. Used by permission of the Wylie Agency LLC

This recording of Invisible Cities was made possible with grants from
the Copland Recording Fund and New Music USA. Additional support
was generously provided by Elizabeth and Justus Schlichting.


© all rights reserved


“A startlingly ambitious project by the venturesome opera company The Industry. The idea of putting on an opera in a train station where the characters can be nearly indistinguishable from everyday people in the waiting rooms is a strange and alluring subversion.

It would not have been hard for Sharon’s herculean act of coordination and inventive production to overwhelm Cerrone’s delicate and beautiful opera. Importantly, it didn’t. Somehow, even the performance, conducted by Marc Lowenstein, remained sensitive in so intimidating a performance space.” Mark Swed, The Los Angeles Times
“Is This the Opera of the Future? Invisible Cities may be thematically timeless, but it represents the leading edge of operatic innovation — a bold effort to create individualized experiences within the context of a communal performance.” Jeffrey Marlow, Wired Magazine
“A secret opera erupts inside California’s biggest train depot. I discovered that I didn’t even have to follow the story to have a transcendent experience—it was more like I was stepping in and out of different conversations between the music, the public and the building. I walked outside through the garden, stood in the waiting room with the other passengers; I even sat at the bar in the station for awhile and took off my headphones, jumping along with the rest of the drinkers when a man in a wheelchair suddenly began singing nearby, his vibrato echoing a capella into the arches of the main hall.” Alissa Walker, Gizmodo
“A Welcome Adventure. Cerrone dared to turn something with an abstract, poetic structure into a subtle and beautiful musical meditation on travel, cultural differences, death, and memory. Let’s hope more American composers and librettists challenge audiences with wonderful, new theatrical experiences — as Cerrone and Sharon did.” Christian Hertzog, LA Weekly
“Christopher Cerrone‘s music is lyrical and rigorous and points the words with skillful felicity and no little gorgeousness. He inventively mimics Calvino’s tone with recurring musical ideas that repeatedly change perspective. He’s undeniably already a composer of considerable gifts.

The Industry director Yuval Sharon, who surmounted unimaginable logistical difficulties to realize this signal cultural event, certainly struck the sweet spot of ballyhoo and artistic accomplishment.” Myron Meisel, The Hollywood Reporter
“A marvelously inventive theater event. This joint production from The Industry and L.A. Dance Project is a fascinating display of unbounded creativity and talent – and a helluva lot of fun. Eight amazingly nimble dancers execute Danielle Agami’s angular/spasmodic/sinewy choreography on the floor and on top of the ticket counters. Cerrone’s opera is exquisitely orchestrated with a thrilling overture. Sharon, the mastermind behind all of this, wants us to examine our city and imagine a better world for all.” Tony Frankel, Stage & Cinema
“An important work you shouldn’t miss. There’s a delicious, dangerous tension as you discover and imagine both the invisible city of the opera and more importantly the invisible city of Los Angeles. The magic of the piece is becoming aware of the art and life that surrounds us: of engaging the public space of our city as a locus for art making.” Anthony Byrnes, Behind the Curtain
“The genius of the conceit here is that it forces you to inhabit a space the way we rarely do, curiously, tentatively, with no particular aim. It creates a bond between you and the other headphone-wearing audience members. It made you pay better attention to the random other humans who happened in on the experience, as they gazed with wonder or concern or even disinterest at those dancers writhing on the floor of the terminal.What’s most wonderful about Invisible Cities is how it uses technology to unite us in an odd, wordless way.” Lisa Napoli, All Things Considered
“Endless possibilities. Endless experiences. I stood next to Ashley Faatoalia, who played Marco Polo, no more than an arm’s reach away. I watched as he softly bellowed his lines into my headphones. I took them off to hear the raw talent of his voice. I turned to watch the choreography Danielle Agami created for the undead dancers in front of us. There were no rules. No wrong way. Just an experience that I undoubtedly won’t forget.” Sound & Picture
“In an era of digitally projected IMAX 3D movies, on-demand television and hyperrealistic, open world video games, the centuries-old art form of opera might appear to have become something of a technological relic. But in an effort to breathe new life into the medium, a trio of companies has come together to create something never before attempted: an opera whose soundscape exists entirely in the audience’s headphones, and a performance that bleeds directly into the physical space of its surroundings. The line between performer, audience member, and onlooker blurred; the experience was somewhere between a traditional opera, an alternate reality game (ARG), and a piece of high-tech performance art.” Evan Shamoon, TechHive
“Sennheiser lends its world leading ability in sound technology design with wireless earphones that ensure the highest listening experience for the audience while allowing them free movement within the space. The technology is crucial to the experience, the earphones ‘isolate’ a group from the work-a-day world, uniting them in a creative, imaginative experience expressed through story, music and dance. Innovation in every respect, this type of performance wouldn’t have been possible even ten years ago.” Hugh McCafferty, Swide
“Sennheiser Powers First ‘Wireless’ Opera in LA. Senneheiser, a leader in wireless equipment for live events, provided key components to ensure that this 70-minute production, from capture to delivery, was as clean and uninterrupted as possible in a large, RF-heavy environment. The vocal performances were captured with Sennheiser’s Digital 9000 Wireless Systems, transceiving uncompressed signals with great dynamic range. Each performer also received customized audio feeds of vocal and orchestral buses, powered by Sennheiser’s 2000-series IEM systems, to make sure everybody was on the same page. This preparation ensured the best accompaniment possible for a mesmerizing evening. Highly recommended.” Matt Brodnick, Bright Side of News
“The Industry, L.A. Dance Project and audio specialist Sennheiser push the boundaries of art, imagination and wireless technology for an unprecedented, interactive dramatic experience, allowing the audience as well as by-standers in Los Angeles’ Union Station. I was totally immersed in the moment, feeling a part of the scene as if the spirits were singing only to me and I was a part of them. I know other audience members were taking photos of the moment and I can only imagine the look of wonder on my face.” Shari Barrett, Broadway World
“The hottest ticket in town. A movable feast: you’re encouraged to wander under the train station’s noir-glam arches and through manicured grounds, where performers are waiting for you to discover them. You might happen upon pirouetting dancers from Benjamin Millepied’s LA Dance Project. Or find a soprano warbling in a corner, her voice amplified by a hidden microphone into your headphones. It’s the high-concept project of director Yuval Sharon, whose fledgling company The Industry is fresh from wowing audiences last spring with a different production. This time the work is even more ambitious. Finally, someone who’s made opera accessible and fun.” Purewow
“Charismatically disorienting and downright dazzling. It’s tempting to call The Industry’s daring new opera event, Invisible Cities, performed in the public areas of LA Union Station, a flash mob—except flash mobs don’t sell out tickets way in advance. The Industry is director Yuval Sharon’s upstart Los Angeles opera company devoted to deconstructing the traditional modes of contemporary opera staging.

(At the particular performance we attended, it was particularly gratifying to see a young woman carrying a toddler become absolutely entranced by the surprise performance suddenly going on around her. Exclaiming that she’d “never seen anything like this,” she and her young son joined the crowd walking from one part of the station to another where the performance was going on, and members of the audience intermittently took turns lending her their headsets so she could experience the full dynamic of the production. Really a heartwarming civic moment.)" Lyle Zimskind, LAist