Paola Prestini is “the enterprising composer and impresario” (The New York Times) behind the new Brooklyn venue National Sawdust and the ”Visionary-In-Chief” (Time Out NY) of the production company VisionIntoArt (VIA), home to VIA Records. Named one of NPR’s “Top 100 Composers in the World under 40,” her compositions are deemed “radiant… amorously evocative” by The New York Times, and ”luminously involving” by The LA Times. She has been commissioned by Carnegie Hall, the New York Philharmonic, and the Kronos Quartet and creates large scale multimedia works including The Hubble Cantata (a Virtual Reality space operatic experience), Aging Magician, next at the New Victory Theater on Broadway, and the opera, Gilgamesh, with Michael Counts, Cerise Jacobs and Beth Morrison Projects. New works include Two Oars with Robert Wilson, a new orchestral work for the ACO at Zankel Hall, and The Colorado, an eco-film cantata currently on tour in halls and film festivals.
Gilgamesh is the story of Ming, the son of Madame White Snake, half demon-half man, who was abandoned during his mother’s epic battle with the Abbot. He is identified with the protagonist of the Sumerian Epic, Gilgamesh, who was two-thirds god and one-third man. When the White Snake suddenly sends for him on his thirtieth birthday, he finds her in the form of a beautiful woman imprisoned in the Abbot’s alms bowl. The White Snake reveals his birthright and his power to control the waters. Ming tests his powers and brings the world to the brink of another devastating flood. The Abbot appears and sows the seeds of doubt about his mother. When Ming goes back to see her again, he sees a white snake in the alms bowl. Ming returns home to find that his wife, Ku, has just given birth to a white, iridescent baby girl who resembles her grandmother. He gives the baby to the green snake, Xiao Qing, who had taken him as a baby away from the floodwaters. He returns to the monastery. There is no one there. A robe and empty alms bowl are left. Ming dons the robe, takes the alms bowl and leaves.