Rising opera star, countertenor and recent finalist on NBC’s The Voice John Holiday — who recently made his debut with the Metropolitan Opera in Matthew Aucoin’s Eurydice (December 16) and the New York Philharmonic in Handel’s Messiah at The Riverside Church (December 14 to 18) — stars in the film After/Glow by award-winning director Ryan McKinny.

John Holiday stars in Helio Arts’ film After/Glow. (Photo: Helio Arts)

A vibrant reimagining of Schumann’s iconic song cycle, Dichterliebe (A Poet’s Love), the film embarks on a sensual cinematic journey, which fuses poetry, song and spoken word by acclaimed poet Marc Bamuthi Joseph. The film is available exclusively at Helio Arts, a new online platform at the nexus of film and the performing arts. After/Glow is the first project of Helio Arts and is co-executive produced with Drax Productions.

The film features the virtuosic performance of Holiday and the original work and spoken word artistry of Joseph — a TED Global Fellow and Guggenheim Social Practice recipient whose opera libretto, We Shall Not Be Moved, was named one of 2017’s “Best Classical Music Performances” by The New York Times. After/Glow brings the spark of new love, the smoldering of desire and the haze of loss, leaving viewers basking in the raw power of intimate human connection. Holiday leads the cast, which is rounded out by Eboni Adams and DeMario Adams. McKinny won Best Rogue Director at the 2021 Seattle Film Festival for the film.

 (A Poet’s Love) was composed in 1840, during a year which accounted for nearly half of Robert Schumann’s song output. It also marked the year he married pianist Clara Wieck, who provided the inspiration for the work and fueled the composer’s attraction to love lyrics. Featuring texts from Heinrich Heine’s Lyrisches Intermezzo (from his Buch der Lieder), the 16-song cycle was completed in the space of about a week.

“When John Holiday mentioned to me that he was looking at the ridiculously difficult task of both singing and playing Schumann’s Dichterliebe, I immediately knew we had to make it into a film. But not wanting to leave poor Heinrich Heine and Robert Schumann to do all the heavy lifting, I asked Marc Bamuthi Joseph to write new poems, inspired by the originals,” said McKinny, himself a lauded opera singer who also served as writer and editor for After/Glow. “A story of love and sex, despair and death started to form, and the end result takes Schumann’s beauty, Heine’s romanticism, Bamuthi’s visceral sensuality, Eboni Adams and DeMario Adams’ stunning screen presence along with John’s herculean musical performance and rolls them together into something truly special.”

Founded by McKinny in February 2021 during the height of the pandemic when many opera and theater companies began offering their live capture of performances online, Helio Arts takes home viewing to the next level with commissioned narrative and experimental films — whether opera or other music, spoken word or dance — that allow viewers a fresh take on the classics and new works alike. The platform’s revenue-sharing model is also a way to support performing artists whose livelihoods have been among some of the hardest hit during the pandemic.

was developed with the generous support of arts and entertainment company Drax Productions and produced by Tonya McKinny. Cinematography is by Ryan McKinny and Tonya McKinny.To stream After/Glow, visit www.helioarts.com.
Helio Arts is a digital home for streaming performing arts films. On the Helio platform, viewers will find original content from independent creative teams and arts organizations like Houston Grand Opera, The Joffrey Ballet and Minnesota Opera. Helio blends all art forms for new and exciting digital content streamed right to the screen.
Drax Productions is a New York-based boutique production company that partners with and invests in creators in the performing arts, streaming, TV and film worlds to bring their dream projects to life.

This post was curated by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.

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