We see clearly only after the fact
We love dearly only after the loss
The wind blows dust in our eyes
We are blinded as tears hide the truth . . .
How did Naga come about? Charles was the culprit yet again! Charles kept asking how the White Snake came to be. He was not satisfied with my answer that I didn't know, that she just is/was and had always been so. Unfortunately, the Legend of the White Snake gives no clue as to her origins.
His questions started me thinking about whether the White Snake was ever “born” the way you or I were born; whether she was created in the beginning when the universe was created; whether she was in fact the creator being; whether she “reincarnates” into other forms; or whether . . . The possibilities are endless.
The snake's legendary reputation for immortality stems from its ability to shed its skin time and time again, each time being born anew. Once I started down this track, I was amazed to find that the “idea” of the Snake was prevalent in many different cultures and that these myths shared uncanny similarities. The Snake appears in creation stories; it is revered as protector and feared as destroyer. It is worshipped and loathed; revered and despised. And so I began to incorporate these different creation myths into the creation of my White Snake, and Naga, the great protector snake of Buddha, took form.
Of course, opera has to have a strong story line and a collection of different creation myths involving snakes is not a story line. The White Snake has to exist for a purpose. In Ouroboros, her purpose is to experience love. She believes that she can do this only by becoming human for only humans, defined by their mortality, can truly experience such a powerful emotion. So Naga tells the story of how it came to be that this powerful cold-hearted warrior queen began her long quest to find her humanity, a quest that takes her through space and time, and from lifetime to lifetime.
The world premiere of Naga was presented by ArtsEmerson as part of the Ouroboros Trilogy in the 2016-2017 season at the Cutler Majestic Theater:
September 10: Naga, Madame White Snake, Gilgamesh
September 13: Madame White Snake
September 14: Gilgamesh
September 15: Naga
September 17: Gilgamesh, Naga, Madame White Snake
The Ouroboros Trilogy operas and production were commissioned by Friends of Madame White Snake
Naga was co-commissioned by Boston Lyric Opera
Naga is dedicated by Cerise to Charles, with whom everything is possible.
Creator And Librettist
Director and production designer
Supported by the Boston Cultural Council