In The Pillar, a prominent woman confronts the tragic consequences of her own compromise. Embracing a role that brought her position and affluence, Ruth centered her whole life on her husband Bernie, a seeming pillar of the community. When he is finally revealed as a world-class confidence man and gaslighter, all of her choices—indeed her very identity—comes into question. Digging beneath the surface of an historic scandal, The Pillar unearths an all-too-timely parable of corruption, complicity, family dysfunction and the nature of contemporary love.
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Concert Performance – 3 scenes
February 28, 2016
The Washington Chorus, Julian Wachner, Music Director
“According to the splendid performance by all the singers and instrumentalists Woolf’s THE PILLAR is off to a great start… what wrenching, realistic theater it was — the rise and fall of the Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff and the resulting human tragedies.”
– The Washington Post
“THE PILLAR focuses on Ruth Madoff, a woman who has dedicated her life to her husband, a pillar of the community. When he falls into disgrace, she must confront choices, and consequences, of operatic proportions. The Pillar uses this contemporary scandal to deliver a timeless meditation on loyalty, corruption and the nature of love.”
– Georgetown Patch
“Ruth Madoff’s struggle is Shakespearean … as if Gertrude from Hamlet has been fleshed out for us.”
– Loretta Toscano, Actor/Educator
“The drama is so moving … all we wanted was more than thirty-something minutes!”
“Musically inventive and powerful … such economy in the language … It’s brilliant!”
– Elizabeth W. Scott , Dunch Arts
Ruth – Marnie Breckenridge
Bernie – Jim Shaffran
Harry – Peter Tantsits
Mark – Jonathan Blalock
September 14, 2014
Opera America Center Recital Hall
“It made me look at the whole event in a different way … it becomes deep, tragic and human … a Biblical story.”
– Dillon McCartney, NYIOP International
The music of composer Luna Pearl Woolf has been praised for its “psychological nuances and emotional depth,” by The New York Times. Her works in opera, dramatic chamber music, silent film and music-storytelling have been commissioned by Carnegie Hall, Washington National Opera, Tapestry Opera, Bard Music West, Arte Musica Foundation, Collectif9, Architek Percussion and ECM+, among others, collaborating with artists such as Joyce DiDonato, Frederica von Stade, Evelyn Glennie, Matt Haimovitz, Marnie Breckenridge, Julian Wachner, Dennis Russell Davies, Brentano String Quartet, NOVUS NY, Deutsches Kammerorchester, and Bruckner Orchestra as well as Academy Award-winner Jeremy Irons, and author Cornelia Funke. Her new opera on the cellist Jacqueline du Pré, written with librettist Royce Vavrek, will premiere in 2018. Woolf co-founded the ground-breaking Oxingale Productions with cellist Matt Haimovitz in 2000, garnering several Grammy and Juno nominations and awards. Recordings of her work are available internationally on the PENTATONE Oxingale Series.
Librettist David Van Taylor is an award-winning filmmaker whose feature documentaries include A Perfect Candidate, Ghosts of Attica, and Good Ol’ Charles Schulz. Supported by the NEH, the NEA, and the Guggenheim Foundation, his works have been praised as “riveting” (New York Times), “quietly cosmic” (LA Times), and “compelling as any fictional narrative” (Austin Statesman).
Research for The Pillar was informed and assisted by the book, The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust, by Diana B. Henriques. Permission granted by the copyright holder.