Matthew WelchUnited States
Grants Awarded2016 | Music | Philippines
to support a two-month trip to the Philippines for research on music, theater, and family history that will inform the completion of an opera-in-progress
And Here We Are is the new shadow puppet opera from Experiments in Opera co-founder Matthew Welch, with a libretto by Daniel Neer. It tells the inspiring story of one man’s survival in a Japanese prison camp in the Philippines during WWII and speaks to the power of music to create bonds between cultures and transcend the greatest adversities. This evening-length opera for four vocalists and a unique orchestra will be staged using an updated take on traditional Javanese shadow puppetry by director and designer Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew.
And Here We Are is based on the memoirs of Matthew’s Manila-born great uncle Edgar Needler, a young singer trapped in the Philippines when World War II broke out and thus held in a Japanese prison camp. The story follows Edgar’s relationships with his fellow prisoners and the guards at the camp. He also has many visions and visitations from his future singing coach Eva Gauthier. He seeks interned spiritual advisors who become key figures in his journey through the hellish environment of the camp and back to the world of the living to sing his song.