A sci-fi opera exploring the mysteries of space, time, and love.
Cerise Lim Jacobs
Creator and Librettist
Art by Glynis Anderson
Curtain-raiser: Sing Out Strong: DeColonized Voices
Traverse the mysteries of time, space and love, through wormholes and black holes, in this sci-fi opera that blends live staging and virtual reality. Inspired by both the 400th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock and the historic landing of the space probe Philae on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Cosmic Cowboy meditates on both the power of human imagination and the consequences of our colonizing impulse.
The opera is an eclectic romp through the universe that ranges from the formation of the cosmos by the mating of the Sumerian gods Tiamat and Apsu to a touching pas de deux between Cooper, a robotic space probe, and Tiamat’s daughter, Tia.White Snake Projects' 2021-2022 programming is supported in part by grants from the Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Inspired by the historic landing of the space probe Philae on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Cosmic Cowboy explores the origins of the universe beginning at the Big Bang when the universe is formed by the mating of the Sumerian gods, Tiamat and Apsu. It traverses the mystery of time and space, through wormholes, black holes and alternate universes, until it comes full circle into the ultimate mystery - the human heart. Tia, Tiamat’s daughter, befriends the robotic probe and together, they confront the Astronaut from the spaceship Mayflower sent to retrieve the robot and to capture Tia, the first extra-terrestial known to us. Synopsis
I've followed Philae's botched landing with bated breath, rooting for the the washing machine sized probe as it bounced several times when its thrusters failed to deploy, sending it reeling about due to 67/P's lower gravity. I've sighed with disappointment as its battery shut down because it landed in the shadow of an overhang and did not have the requisite sunlight to recharge itself. I've jumped with joy when 67/P sped nearer the sun and Philae was rejuvenated. I've watched with admiration as that plucky little robot sent back streams of data. I've read with curiosity the articles that there may be alien microbes on 67/P which Philae could unearth, and now, water, on Mars! Then there is that TED Talk,“How We'll Live on Mars,” by Stephen Petranek. I didn't know if I want to be an early pioneer colonizing Mars, or protest against this imperialist colonization of a distant planet by infecting it with microbes from Earth and changing its environment using global warming even as we are fighting this phenomenon here on Earth. In short, how could I not write about Philae, 67/P, and “our” future Mars colony? Thus Cosmic Cowboy came about. I envisioned a god(s) that created the universe and our Milky Way galaxy. In particular, the goddess Tia, daughter of Tiamat, the Mother of Creation of the ancient Sumerians, patrolling our little part of the universe on a comet, riding its bucking, fiery body like the cowboys of old.