A mysterious figure enters a crowded room. Dressed in an elaborate dark silk gown and her hair styled in an extravagant fashion, she quietly moves through the space like a ghost visiting from an other time. The inquisitive viewers who are puzzled about her identity only get their own reflections thrown back at them when gazing into her face. In this situation it is a daunting sight like a peek into the face of ones own mortality. During the performance she sings an aria. Sometimes gently, sometimes powerfully loud, she addresses each member of the audience in an forthright manner. She sings in Italian. It’s a beautiful song elaborating on the invaluable roll of the artist as the direct communicator of our divine creator. She casts a true and faithful reflection of the perpetuating drama of human existence. The aria Io son l’ umile ancella from Francesco Cilea’s opera Adriana Lecouvreur vibrates through the viewer’s awareness like an ominous sign. Everyone listens and watches very quietly.
Video of the performance The Lady with a Thousand Faces, performed in the Exhibition: Devouring and Being Devoured which took place in September 2012 at Katz Contemporary Gallery in Zurich, Switzerland.
Video of the performance The Lady with a Thousand Faces, performed at the event Picking in the Parlor in December 2014 a house concert in Park Slope Brooklyn, which is organized by Miles Pittman.
The Lady with a Thousand Faces was initially commissioned by UBS Swiss Bank for a special event at their ART Basel VIP lounge, June 2011
Aria from Francesco Cilea’s Opera Adriana Lecouvreur:
Io Son l’ umile Ancella: I am but a humble servant
Ecco, respiro appena, Look here: I am scarcely breathing…
Io son l’umile ancella I am but a humble servant
del genio creator; of the brilliant creator;
Ei m’offre la favella He offers me the words
Io la diffondo ai cor… that I impart to the heart…
l’eco del dramma uman, the echo of human drama,
il fragile strumento the fragile instrument,
vassallo della man… the lowly hand-maiden…
Mite, gioconda, atroce, Timid, joyous, atrocious,
Mi chiamo Fedeltà; I am called Faithfulness.
Un soffio è la mia voce, My voice is just a whisper,
che al novo di morrà. which, with the new day, will die.