Where Drums Glow, and Dreams Go Dark

By Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, September 19, 2014

For centuries, the archetypal characters of commedia dell’arte have been mined so thoroughly by composers, dancers and dramatists that you would think that there is nothing fresh to uncover. Thankfully, the composer Amy Beth Kirsten did not feel this way. Read the full review here


Amy Beth Kirsten’s ‘Colombine’s Paradise Theater’ is a tour de force

By Stephen Brookes, Washington Post, November 17, 2013

"There’s no simple way to describe Colombine’s Paradise Theater — the wildly imaginative new music-theater-dance piece by composer Amy Beth Kirsten, performed at the Atlas Performing Arts Center this weekend. But it’s a tour de force any way you cut it.

Built on a few fragments of 17th-century poetry and some archetypal characters from Venetian commedia dell’arte, it’s a highly stylized, darkly beautiful love story that’s steeped in myth yet utterly modern. There’s no real plot, exactly; the players (the virtuosos of the new-music ensemble Eighth Blackbird) act out the roles of a young woman and her two suitors. But the story really unfolds in the rich poetic imagery — both musical and visual — in the shadowy, unsettling world Kirsten creates." Read the full review here.


New works at UR captivate audience

BY GENE HARRIS Special correspondent, Richmond Times-Dispatch, October 27, 2013

"Colombine’s Paradise Theatre, composed by Amy Beth Kirsten, is a musical fantasy based on 17th century commedia dell’arte. Kirsten adapted the spare libretto from poetry by the 17th century actress and writer Isabella Andreini — but this is no 17th-century work. With a modern score that employs instruments and voices in unconventional ways, it requires much of its performers — and the members of eighth blackbird were decidedly up to the task. Through playing, singing, acting, movement, mime and assorted noise making, all directed by Mark DeChiazza, they portrayed four stock characters of commedia dell’arte in an 11-scene visual and aural tour-de-force...The total effect remarkably demonstrated that fearless risk-taking can result in masterful artistic experiences for performers and audiences." Read the full review here.