The Desire/Divinity Project

To be human is to desire.

Last performances: February 1st – 3rd, 2018, 8pm @the historic Judson Memorial Church (55 Washington Square South)


Marisa Michelson’s Desire/Divinity Project embodies the joyful and aching tension between earthly and divine love by musicalizing the Western worlds oldest erotic poem (Song of Songs) and Anne Carsons visceral translation of Sapphos fragments. 15 singer-movers, members of Constellation Chor, explore singing as a way of merging the interior self with the exterior world. A mixture of live music video, opera, oratorio, and ritual, Desire/Divinity enlivens the sensual and the sacred, the body and the spirit.

The Desire/Divinity Project is developed with support from The Ted and Mary Jo Shen Charitable Gift Fund, Judson Memorial Church, Heartbeat Opera, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

Part One: Song of Song of Songs

Conceived, Created and Composed by Marisa Michelson
Developed with and Directed by Ethan Heard

A musical piece in three  movements scored for Constellation Chor, bansuri flute, melodica, cello and percussion.

In between a live music video, an oratorio, an opera and a ritual, Song of Song of Songs explores the the relationship between the sensual and the sacred, the body and the spirit, through an exegesis of the Western world’s oldest erotic poem, Song of Songs. Featuring an empowered woman at its center it unfolds through 3 distinct musical “movements.” It’s scored for twelve singers, bansuri flute, melodica, cello and percussion (djembe, cajon, frame drum, talking drum, drum set).
Conceptually, the piece is a journey from the ancient to the contemporary, from the heteronormative to the queer, and from the personal to the cosmic. It takes place from one sunrise to the next.

Part Two: Sappho Fragments

Conceived and Composed by Marisa Michelson

Sappho’s poetry crackles with life: each word (as translated by Anne Carson) is a potent universe evoking layers of meaning, each phrase is a journey into a passionate pulsing heart, each poem shrinks the millennia, transcends time, and reveals the universality of a human soul that is like all of ours. 
Poetry, voice, breath, movement, woven together by Constellation Chor, to make audible and visible Sappho’s spirit.  

Performance history:

 Judson Memorial Church, February 2018

Direction by Ethan Heard

Movement Direction : Emma Crane Jaster

Featuring Marisa Michelson and Constellation Chor

Heartbeat Opera
Spring Collaboret, 2017
Movement Direction
by Emma Crane Jaster
Featuring Marisa Michelson and Constellation Chor


Part Three: The FarNearness

In development.

This piece will be performed by Michelson and performance artist Margot Bassett Silver

The Far-Near is a musical/ritual/interdisciplinary performance piece inspired by the lives and writings of Hildegard von Bingen and Heloise d’Argenteuil, (two powerful women who rose to positions of great influence as monastics in the 12th century), and Marguerite Porete (who lived and was burned at the stake as a heretic 100 years later).