LA Opera to Premiere New Digital Short ‘Gallup (Na’nízhoozhí)’

By Chris Ruel

LA Opera announced the premiere of the newly commissioned work, “Gallup (Na’nízhoozhí),” by composer Matthew Aucoin, poet Jake Skeets, and filmmaker Blackhorse Lowe. The premiere is scheduled for May 28, 2021, and will stream for free on LA Opera’s On Now platform as part of the company’s Digital Shorts initiative.

Skeets and Lowe, both members of the Navajo Nation, worked with Aucoin to create and share a portrait of the city of Gallop, New Mexico, as seen through the eyes of two supernatural beings. Known as Na’nízhoozhí in the Navajo language, Gallop is the ceremonial capital of Native America.

“What strikes me most about Jake’s poetry is how cinematic it is,” said Lowe in the LA Opera announcement. “When I first heard Matt’s music with Jake’s words, I was blown away. I took Jake’s poems and created an original storyline to visualize them. The city of Gallup has so much influence on his work, and we spent four days there gathering time-lapse footage for the film. I’ve been exploring storylines involving Navajo deities in some of my current experimental works, and felt that could add to the film as well.”

Aucoin conducted his new score, which was performed by members of American Modern Opera Company (AMOC), of which he is co-artistic director.

Featured vocalists are countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo and bass-baritone Davóne Tines.

Accompanying the vocalists are Emi Ferguson on bass flute/flute/piccolo, Miranda Cuckson on violin, Coleman Itzkoff on cello, Jonny Allen is the percussionist, and Conor Hanick is at the piano.