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Theatre & Performing Arts

The Priestess of Morphine: A Forensic Study of Marie-Madeleine

The International Museum of Surgical Science presents two operatic performances of “The Priestess of Morphine: A Forensic Study of Marie-Madeleine in the Time of the Nazis,” written by Aiden K. Feltkamp and composed by Rosśa Crean.
Performances are 50 minutes long. Doors open 30 minutes prior to the start of the performance.


The writings of Marie-Madeleine (pen name of Baroness Gertrud von Puttkamer, ) are full of ecstatic highs and terrible despairs, with sensational depictions of lesbian eroticism and narcotics. Likewise, her life contained both the heights of scandalous success in early 20th-century Germany, and her mysterious but tragic death in a Nazi sanitarium. Her rediscovery is a welcome revival, in the form of a 2016 publication, translating her works to English for the first time, which inspired the creation of “The Priestess Of Morphine”, a chamber opera Rosśa Crean and Aiden Feltkamp. Subtitled “A Forensic Investigation Of Marie-Madeleine”, the work uses powerful song and a twist on the monodrama format to explore her inner and outer worlds.

The monodrama’s unusual story is matched by a unique ensemble. Two sopranos represent each side of Gertrud’s life—one mature and narrative, the other youthful and poetic—as the instruments weave unexpected textures and moods. The vibraphone is pushed to its musical limits to create unusual sounds, and the violin and cello float between traditional and percussive styles. Rounding out the ensemble’s ethereal sound is a brief yet powerful scene with the mysterious waterphone. The opera lulls listeners into a sensual, dreamlike state to explore the young woman’s suffocating trauma with an eye towards healing.


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