Original jazz opera comes to WICA stage
June 25, 2008 · Updated 1:16 PM
"Rhonda Jourdonnais of Langley appears in the role of a melancholic in the production of Temple Dreams, on stage at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts on Saturday.Joan Soltys/staff photo The stage at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts will become the Temple of the Great Goddess on Crete, 4000 years ago, when WICA hosts an original jazz opera, Temple Dreams, on Saturday, March 10, at 8 p.m.Written and conducted by Pamela Gerke and directed by Rev. Judith Laxer, Temple Dreams was performed last month at the Women of Wisdom Conference at Seattle Unity Church. The production combines ritual theater, jazz and dance in a celebration of the divine feminine, connecting the present to the ancient culture of Goddess worship and telling a story of the usurpation of the Great Goddess religion by patriarchal forces in culture.The jazz opera utilizes the strengths of performers from a variety of backgrounds. Among them is Langley resident Rhonda Jourdonnais, who is a veterinary assistant at Useless Bay Animal Clinic in Freeland.There are many different professions represented, Jourdonnais said. From chiropractors to reverends to drummers to body work practitioners. One woman is traveling the world reclaiming witches' burning sites.The singers and dancers appear on stage as priestesses who are Amazons or melancholics.These are the people who are the most emotive, the most flighty and histrionic, said Jourdonnais, who portrays a melancholic. The Amazons are strong, prepared to fight. Also performing will be the Goddess Squad Belly Dancers.Temple Dreams takes place in 2001, B.C.E. It's a day in the life of the temple, Jourdonnais said. The temple community is worshiping with song and dance, calling in the spirit of the goddess.Then a messenger arrives, bringing the news that invaders are coming to destroy them and their faith. The women respond in a variety of ways: anger, fear, denial, and practical wisdom. Ultimately, says the composer, it is the voices of the people of our time who provide an inspiring end, and a hope that the Goddess religions will awaken again.Composer and artistic director, Pamela Gerke, has composed scores for 10 musicals, including Stealing, The Wind Pearl and The Odyssey. She has conducted several choral groups, including the Seattle Peace Chorus and the Seattle Women's Ensemble (1992-1998), in which Jourdonnais sang as a member.Director and choreographer Judith Laxer has been on national tours of Pippin with Ben Vereen, Camelot with Richard Harris, and a European tour of Evita. Tickets for Temple Dreams at WICA are $15 and $12; call 360.221.8268 for information. "