Produced by Ron Diamond, the film showcases an international trio of animators, each working on a segment from Du Yun's opera Zolle
(Los Angeles) June 29, 2021 — Throughout the 2020/21 season, LA Opera's series of Digital Shorts has showcased an astonishingly diverse range of filmmaking, from the hyper-theatricality of The Five Moons of Lorca to the suspense of The West is a Land of Infinite Beginnings, from the spare documentary gravity of Death to the sumptuous visuals of Brown Sounds. (All of these can be viewed at LAOpera.org/DigitalShorts.) The eighth Digital Short in the series, Du Yun's The Zolle Suite, which premieres online on July 9, turns to a completely different language of film: experimental animation.
The new short from Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Du Yun brings three chapters of her 2005 opera Zolle to the digital screen, produced by Ron Diamond of Acme Filmworks. By turns abstract, compelling, resigned, even harrowing, three movements from the opera are brought to life by an international trio of animation directors— Steven Woloshen, Benjamin Swiczinsky and Kristian Pedersen—each creating his own unique visual interpretation of Du Yun's striking musical world.
Diamond's advice for viewers? Let your mind roam free and prepare to be blown away. "Experimental animation is about going with the flow, not trying to make sense out of every image you see, but rather being free to go on a crafted journey of music and visuals. The harmony of artful animation for each movement is a lovely testament to the form. Let the textures, colors and imagery wash over you; each interpretation is unique to each viewer."
Du Yun herself is the narrator of The Zolle Suite. The musical forces include mezzo-soprano Hai-Ting Chinn and the International Contemporary Ensemble, conducted by Julian Wachner.
Du Yun and Zolle
Born and raised in Shanghai, China, and currently based in New York City, Du Yun is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, performance artist, activist and curator of new music. She works at the intersection of orchestral music, opera, chamber music, theater, cabaret, musical theater, oral tradition, public performances, sound installation, electronics, visual arts and noise. She won the Pulitzer Prize in Music for her 2016 opera Angel's Bone (which LA Opera had planned to present in the spring of 2020). In 2022, LA Opera will present the West Coast premiere of her monodrama In Our Daughter's Eyes, starring baritone Nathan Gunn.
Zolle is Du Yun's 2005 chamber opera, composed for a narrator, a female vocalist and a small instrumental ensemble. In the piece, a dead woman wanders through the shadowy space between memory and reality, unable to choose between the worlds of the living and the dead. Ultimately, she lets go of both, turning into a part of the earth. (The word "zolle" is Italian for "a big chunk of earth.")
"I was an international student at the time of writing, and I am an Asian-American now," said Du Yun. "Revisiting and re-recording this story after a decade, it still rings true—the calling of the homeland and the pull of migration. It was a pleasure to come back to it for this project."
For viewing details and additional information, visit LAOpera.org/Zolle.
Part of the company's On Now platform of online programming, Digital Shorts are newly commissioned films that team gifted composers, performers and visual artists. Digital Shorts are offered free of charge to all viewers.
Click here to download images from The Zolle Suite in the press photo gallery.
Meet the Filmmakers
Producer Ron Diamond is the founder and executive producer of Acme Filmworks, Inc., an award-winning animation production company specializing in commercials, short films, television series, feature films, and distribution. He produced the Academy Award-nominated short film Nibbles (2003). He has been a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Shorts Films and Feature Animation Branch, since 2002, serving on several Academy executive committees and sub-committees.
Montreal native Steven Woloshen is the filmmaker who created "No-Noha," the opening segment of The Zolle Suite. He has made over 50 award-winning, abstract films and time-based installations for festivals, galleries and museums. He is the author of Recipes for Reconstruction: The Cookbook for the Frugal Filmmaker (2010), a hands-on manual for decay, renewal and other handmade, analogue film techniques, and Scratch, Crackle & Pop! A Whole Grains Approach to Making Films without a Camera (2015).
Austrian filmmaker Benjamin Swiczinsky is the animator and director of "Climax," the midpoint of The Zolle Suite. He is a co-founder of "NÖT“ (Neuer Österreichischer Trickfilm), an award-winning animation studio based in Vienna. In 2018, he created his first graphic novel, Schwanzer: Architect, Visionary, Maestro, about Austrian architect Karl Schwanzer.
Norwegian filmmaker Kristian Pedersen is the director of "Resign," the closing chapter of The Zolle Suite. Based in Oslo, he produces animated films with a distinct visual signature and narrative style. His films have been featured at festivals for film, animation, literature and poetry film. In 2014, he was awarded the Goethe Institute's Film Prize at the Zebra Poetry Film Festival in Berlin.
About LA Opera On Now
The Digital Shorts series, which launched in December with The Five Moons of Lorca by composer Gabriela Lena Frank, is part of LA Opera's On Now platform of digital programming. LA Opera was the first major American opera company to create a weekly schedule of original new online programming to bring opera to audiences during the coronavirus crisis. As the company awaits its cue to return to the stage with world-class productions in theaters, it is offering a variety of online content including newly commissioned performances, live recitals, opera broadcasts and learning opportunities via its On Now digital offerings, which have accumulated more than 920,000 views since its launch last spring.
About LA Opera
Los Angeles is a city of enormous diversity and creativity, and LA Opera is dedicated to reflecting that vibrancy by redefining what opera can be with thrilling performances, thought-provoking productions and innovative programming. The communal and curative power of opera is needed now more than ever before, especially given the extraordinary challenges of the time. The company is grateful to its supporters for helping to ensure that it has the resources needed to get through this unprecedented period through the LA Opera Relief Fund. Those wanting to support LA Opera can go to LAOpera.org/donate.
LA Opera Media Contact
Vanessa Flores Waite
Director of Communications
This project is generously supported by a consortium of donors to LA Opera's Contemporary Opera Initiative, chaired by Nancy and Barry Sanders.
LA Opera is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the greater Los Angeles community.