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Opera of McPhee’s “A House in Bali” Premieres in Berkeley

by Susi, 26 September 2009


Tonight at 7pm an opera based on Colin McPhee’s book of memoirs, “A House in Bali,” premieres at Zellerbach Hall at the University of California in Berkeley. If you’re in the Bay Area, go. See info in yesterday’s SF Chronicle article.

I had the great pleasure and honour to see the world premiere in Ubud a few months ago, on the open stage over the lotus pond at Taman Saraswati (above). It was, in fact, a sort of dress rehearsal of a work in progress, and it was splendid. Without any expectation of anything in particular, I found myself charmed, inspired, enthralled, and took copious notes, intending to do an immediate blog post.

Audiences unfamiliar with Bali and McPhee will not fail to appreciate this unique operatic multimedia performance. Those who are familiar with Bali or McPhee will find even more to resonate with their own impressions and emotions. There’s everything here for the long-time Baliphile, and much of it strangely similar to our experience today in Bali. There are difficult building labourers, opaque banjar politics, woes, worries and scams. There is a classic love-hate relationship with Bali. There is even an annoying female anthropologist who over-analyses everything (Margaret Mead). Keep track of this opera, it will be around a while, and if you have a chance, go.

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