Obscura Nox


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In this modern retelling of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, a woman is cloistered in a prison of her own making until a mysterious stranger shows her a way out.

Featuring Mozart’s Exsultate, Jubilate (KV 165) and new music by Iranian-Canadian composer Iman Habibi with original Latin text, “Obscura Nox” is a combination of classical music and narrative film. This 26-minute “création lyrique” explores themes of isolation, the relationship between perception and reality, and society’s morphine-drip addiction to our screens. 

Artist Statement
Julia Dawson, mezzo-soprano

“The human mind has a unique ability to craft its own experience. I wanted to create a fantastical exploration of someone moving from an external focus on screens and media to an inward focus and how, paradoxically, this allows them to engage more fully with the outside world. 

In the Spring of 2021 an extraordinary group of nearly 30 artists embarked on the journey to make this film. Each person giving generously of their time and their talent to create a film about the power of the human mind to overcome adversity and find joy. “

Artist Statement
Iman Habibi, composer

Through the two movements I composed for obscura nox, per caliginem and ardeo, the main character questions the very essence of her experiential world, and undergoes an existential awakening. Braving an unknown new world, she suffers from agonizing growing pains and ultimately succumbs to them, only to reemerge again with Mozart’s Tu virginum corona (Andante). There are several parallels to be found between this story, and my experience of the pandemic.”

Artist Statement
Mary Birnbaum

“In the darkest hours of the COVID pandemic, we imagined that there would be a time that we all felt whole and safe again, pulling our broken pieces together in a new assemblage. Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate speaks to the capacity of the human spirit to rejoice. Paired with Iman Habbibi & Elin Rummel’s dark, tense take on our lead character’s internal struggle, this music paints a portrait of a human in the throes of addiction who is grasping for connection and who, though suffering, finds grace.”

Creator and Performer
Julia Dawson
Mary Birnbaum
Julia Dawson
Alexander Brusencev
Director of Photography
Thilo Jäger
Iman Habibi
Elin Rummel
Claudia Schreier
Solo Dancer and Dance Captain
Evie Poaros

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