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Alex Waterman on Celebrating Robert Ashley

11 Mar 2014

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Above photo, production still shot on location in Marfa, TX, February 2014 Courtesy of Alex Waterman and Peter Szollosi

Waterman, the director of Vidas Perfectas, a co-production with Ballroom Marfa and the El Paso Opera, recently shared this letter via email with friends and supporters after Robert Ashley’s passing on March 3. The subject was “Celebrating Robert Ashley’s Life and Work”:

Dear Friends and Supporters,

On February 21, 2014, we launched a 30-day Kickstarter campaign to raise enough money to compensate the extraordinary talent and to cover the costs of all the technical equipment we need to stage 3 Operas by Robert Ashley at the Whitney Biennial.

On March 3, 2014, our friend, inspiration, and the composer of these incredible operas, Robert Ashley, passed away.

As we grieve and come to accept the new reality of these productions without Bob, we still face the daunting and awkward task of fundraising.

What’s clear to us is that these operas need to be staged. Bob would not have wanted a memorial concert. What he would want is for his work to be appreciated and performed with love and care, with a thoughtfulness that comes from spending days, months, years… working together and sharing these stories.

At the Whitney Biennial, we don’t want to grieve, we want to celebrate. Bob’s work has always been grounded in an every day life, even when the music veers to the cosmic. His operas are about the people he knew, the stories shared, the books read, the questions asked, the revelations unveiled. By staging his work, we celebrate a mind keen to the nuances of conversation and thought, and a life lived fully.

As difficult as it is to ask under these circumstances, we do need your help. We want these operas to be staged with the best possible sound, lighting, video, and sets, in order to honor Robert Ashley and his work. 12 days remain to raise nearly $35,000. My gratitude goes to those who have already donated. If we don’t reach our goal, we lose it all.