Show artwork for Between the Rooms

Between the Rooms Between the Rooms

Composed by Anna Clyne, with verses by Emily Dickinson

Now Streaming

A haunting new reflection on isolation and loss

Few composers have the ability to create and sustain such varied and distinctive sound worlds as compellingly as Anna Clyne.

Lawrence A. JohnsonChicago Classical Review

An intense, deeply moving new Digital Short by director/choreographer Kim Brandstrup showcases composer Anna Clyne's gorgeous musical setting of poetry by Emily Dickinson. Between the Rooms is a poignant meditation on solitude, featuring two internationally celebrated ballet dancers, the extraordinary Alina Cojocaru and Matthew Ball. 

Soprano Joélle Harvey is the vocal soloist, joined by members of the Brooklyn-based orchestra The Knights, conducted by Eric Jacobsen.


Anna Clyne
Director / Choreographer
Kim Brandstrup
Soprano soloist
Joélle Harvey
Alina Cojocaru
Matthew Ball
The Knights
Eric Jacobsen

A Note from Composer Anna Clyne

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A Note from Composer Anna Clyne

I have been fascinated by Emily Dickinson’s poetry and vivid imagination for many years and am thrilled to have this opportunity to further explore her world in collaboration with choreographer and filmmaker Kim Brandstrup, singer Joelle Harvey, The Knights, and LA Opera. 

Between the Rooms weaves together three poems by Emily Dickinson ("I Heard a Fly buzz—when I died"; "I Cannot Live With You"; "I died for Beauty—but was scarce") with fragments from Dickinson’s Envelope Poems. Themes of solitude and creativity resonate with today’s experience of enforced isolation as a result of the pandemic. Spending the last 15 years of her life in one room, Dickinson wrote her poetry in total solitude. From the confines of her bedroom, she was able to conjure up imagined worlds and landscapes of great vibrancy. Between the Rooms evokes the audible realm that envelopes this lonely figure and explores her journey from solitude to an imaginary world—weaving melodic fragments with hymn-like statements that are conjured by the instrumentation of string quintet with soprano voice. 


A Note from Director/Choreographer Kim Brandstrup

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A Note from Director/Choreographer Kim Brandstrup

Anna called me at the peak of lockdown asking me to work with her on Between the Rooms. We both agreed that the poetry of Emily Dickinson, who lived alone in one room for the last 20 years of her life, seemed strangely topical. And very appropriately the first part of our collaboration took place between Anna’s secluded workroom in upstate New York and mine in London, on Zoom.

The prep for the shoot and the initial rehearsals were held at a similarly cautious distance—and in masks.

However, when the date of filming finally arose in early May of 2021, when the masks and distance were abandoned, the sheer exhilaration of the dancers being able to freely move and touch again was palpable. It was the first time Alina and Matthew had ever danced together and the chemistry was instantaneous—the liberating sense of close physical proximity and touch were unmistakable and very moving.

Thus this sense of longing for touch and closeness—after a year of isolation—has become an important part of the film. However, Emily Dickinson’s solitary life was a clear and personal choice and  the film celebrates her poetry’s powerful ability to evoke the physical world outside the room—a celebration of our ability to conjure up, through poetry, music, movement, an imaginary otherness even when we are alone in our rooms.

Musicians: Colin Jacobsen, violin; Kristi Helberg, violin; Mario Gotoh, viola; Caitlin Sullivan, cello; Logan Coale, bass

This project is generously supported by a consortium of donors to LA Opera's Contemporary Opera Initiative, chaired by Nancy and Barry Sanders.

"Between the Rooms" by Anna Clyne commissioned by LA Opera. By arrangement with Boosey & Hawkes, Inc.

Artwork for Between the Rooms
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