Vireo (played by soprano Rowen Sabala) is a fourteen year old girl genius. Lives in the 16th century, born in the 19th, does forward roll into the 20th. Listens acutely, feels the pain of hearing what she can’t contain, expanding to include what’s beyond her, sometimes complicit with power, often enraged by cant.
In Episode One: The Blow
In 16th century France a young woman named Vireo carries coals home from a neighbor's house; she hears a disembodied voice. The Voice (mezzo-soprano Laurie Rubin) speaks to Vireo of the scope of the plague at hand, and of the difficulty of knowing and holding one's place in the fires of time. The voice leaves, and Vireo falls into a fit. Vireo's Mother (mezzo-soprano Maria Lazarova) and a Priest (baritone Gregory Purnhagen) examine her. Watch Episode One
In Episode Two: Mercury
The Priest concludes Vireo is possessed by spirits, sent under a witch’s command... But the Priest only pretends to be a priest; he is a doctor in disguise, coddling his patient in order to study what he calls Vireo's anachronistic delusions. Raphael (tenor Ryan Glover), the Doctor's callow assistant, is instantly infatuated by Vireo, drawn to what he sees as the glamor of madness. Sequestered in a tower, Vireo watches a witch the town is burning at the stake. Vireo hears the Voice, now from the dying woman. The Voice stresses that there is so much left to learn: as horrible as the plague-struck world may seem, it requires our breathless, hopeless attention. Vireo wonders if she herself is becoming a witch. Watch Episode Two
What's to come...
Vireo tries to escape but is caught and subjected to an assaultive array of tests by the Doctor; Raphael’s attentions to Vireo grow increasingly amorous; the plague continues and we hear a dying cow's lament; and Vireo meets her virtual twin, Caroline (soprano Emma MacKenzie), who has no trouble embracing the attentions of the public and the medical establishment.
Photos of Vireo
Soprano Rowen Sabala plays the role of Vireo. Read her Q&A here.