A performance at the Amargosa Opera House, 2016
May 8, 2020

Opera

Today would have been my parents’ anniversary, and I might be the only one who still remembers this. I do not want this information to disappear with me, but I’m not sure how to catalog it. A record-breaking cold front is moving across the East Coast, casting this May afternoon in shades of February. My thoughts return to the desert because I do not want to think about the weather, the unemployment numbers, or the future of New York City. Tonight I want to believe in reinvention, possibly transcendence.

In 1967 a ballerina’s car broke down in Death Valley Junction. She transformed a ruined building into an opera house and performed without an audience. “I will create a world from the past,” she said, and she painted faces on the adobe walls and danced for them every Saturday night. That show lasted nearly fifty years.

She described herself as “the dust devil, a ghostly figure spiraling up out of nowhere, lingering in the soft desert light.” Her name was Marta Becket, and C. and I were fortunate enough to shake her hand and thank her before she passed away at the age of 92. Her life is one of the most beautiful stories that I know.


William Basinski – The Disintegration Loops 1.3

The Disintegration Loops | 1982/2001 | Bandcamp

Returning to this hymn of loss and possibility. Further reading: Marta Becket and the Amargosa Opera House.

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