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Sonnets to Orpheus

Danielle Birrittella

“an utter acceptance of everything that is alive and earthly… the wholeness, the transfigured body of these poems, is a return to the simplest human experiences of seeing and breathing, beyond thought.” – translator Stephen Mitchell on Rainer Maria Rilke’s cycle of poems
SONNETS TO ORPHEUS is a multidisciplinary song cycle for voice, string quartet, ukulele and harmonium, set to Stephen Mitchell’s translation of Rainer Maria Rilke’s cycle of poems.

The cycle is scored by 13 composers: Aoife O’Donovan, Jherek Bischoff, Ellen Reid, Qasim Naqvi, Christopher Rountree, Andrew Rowan, Bobby Halvorson, Tim Carr, Danielle Birrittella, Greg Uhlmann, Kyle Sanna, Sheena Wenger, Areni Agbabian and Derek Stein.

“Only in a city such as Los Angeles would we be able to conceive of a project that holds space for exploring the lines between theatre, film and concert. We are interested in creating an immersive sonic and visual environment that transcends the form of the song cycle.” —Danielle Birrittella

Work In Development

Anticipated Premiere: Fall 2017

About Sonnets to Orpheus

Creative Team

Created & Performed by Danielle Birrittella
Text by Rainer Maria Rilke
Translation by Stephen Mitchell

Workshop directed by Alexis Macnab
Video Design by Keith Skretch & Hana Sooyeon Kim
Scenic Design by Yao Zhang
Sound Design by Harlow Price
Lighting Design by Katelan Braymer
Costume Design by Beryl Brachman

Carlos Felipe Silva– violin
Caroline Ewan– violin
Tess Scott-Suhrstedt – viola
Vardan Gasparyan – cello


Jherek Bischoff: Sonnet I – Orpheus
Kyle Sanna: Sonnet XV – O fountain-mouth
Areni Agbabian: Sonnet VI – Rose, you majesty
Aoife O’Donovan: Sonnet XXI – Spring has returned
Danielle Birrittella: Sonnet II – And it was almost a girl
Andrew Rowan: Sonnet XIV – We are involved with flower
Gregory Uhlmann: Sonnet IV – O you tender ones
Sheena Wenger: Sonnet VIII – You playmates of mine
Bobby Halvorson: Sonnet XVIII – Dancing girl
Christopher Rountree: Sonnet XXIII – Call me to the one
Qasim Naqvi: Sonnet V – Flower-muscle that slowly opens back
Ellen Reid: Sonnet XXIX – Silent friend of many distances
Tim Carr: Sonnet VIII – We have overheard fountains

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