January 8, 2016 | Washington National Opera
Better Gods
Composer:Luna Pearl Woolf
Librettist:Caitlin Vincent
“Washington National Opera’s Better Gods brings a mostly unknown chapter in Hawaiian history onto the stage at the Kennedy Center, telling the story of Queen Lili’uokalani, the island nation’s last monarch, with dignity and high artistic values. I imagine the Hawaiian “better gods” are happy.” Susan Galbraith – DC Theatre Scene “Woolf’s new and original composition uses Hawaiian instruments to add an audible authenticity to the story. Throughout the opera the nose flute, Kalaʻau (warrior sticks made from strawberry guava trees), and ʻIliʻili (stone castanets) amplify the sadness and desperation of the Queen to maintain Hawaii’s culture. This fascinating and heart wrenching story of Better Gods is a production worth seeing. The touches of Hawaiian authenticity, and the tremendous strength of the performers, make the new fascinating and heart-wrenching Better Gods from the Washington National Opera a powerful experience.” Kendall Mostafavi – DC Metro Theater Arts “The Washington National Opera has always been a champion for young artists, both on stage and off. The WNO’s American Opera Initiative’s premier production of Better Gods is a testimony to that. Composed with ethnical truth by Luna Pearl Woolf, Better Gods is a stirring portrait of a determined Queen who must decide whether she should give up her crown or her soul. Based on the true story of the annexation of Hawaii in 1898, and Queen Lili`uokalani’s struggle to keep her nation together. The story, as told with brutal honest through Caitlin Vincent’s stirring libretto, is a bold choice to be told at the Kennedy Center. A dark moment in our nation’s history, the fact that this story can be told at the nation’s premier art centers is a testament to the work of both the WNO and the Kennedy Center. Ms. Woolf’s gorgeous score is underlined by the use of traditional Hawaiian chants and her score utilized authentic instruments like the nose flute, Kala’au (percussive sticks), and Ili’ili (castanets), that are native to the island. Ms. Woolf’s score also uses Queen Lili`uokalani’s famous composition, “Aloha ‘Oe”, sung in gorgeous counterpoint by soprano Ariana Wehr.” Keith Tittermary – BWW Opera World

Title Information

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Approximate Runtime (hh:mm)
60 minutes

Number of Acts

Vocal & Musical Forces
6 voices, 3 actors, 14 players

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