Tibia: Images from the Surrealist Opera (2004-2007)

The works in the “Tibia” series were created between 2004-2007 and are based on an opera parody I wrote shortly after the 2004 presidential election. The story is meant to playfully poke fun at both 19th century romantic opera and 21st century politics. This body of work is varied in style and media so that each piece evokes the emotion and drama of the specific scene. While there are some obvious social issues that stand out, such as war, patriotism, and climate change the story also examines the personal entanglements of love, artistic expression, and career advancement.

The characters have been given the names of various body parts which combined would not form a complete, functioning person. Operatic characters are similarly dysfunctional and over-simplified. Much like the political identities of “republican” or “democrat”, the elements that make up each are not substantial enough to form a complex, well-rounded individual.

The story directly parodies several well-known operas including “Aida” and “The Magic Flute” while addressing the issues that were at the forefront of the 2004 election. The character of Tibia represents a peace activist musician whose personal philosophy and good intentions get her into trouble. Her lover, Trapezius, is her polar opposite. He is a soldier and hero who is quick to choose sides and fight valiantly, and his equally good intentions also lead to tragedy. During their adventure they find themselves at the mercy of a tyrant pharaoh, a distracting siren, and a flock of fascist penguins. And in the spirit of great romantic tragedies, several of the characters meet a bloody and painfully contrived end.