Bryce Dessner’s Triptych (Eyes of One on Another)

Composer Bryce Dessner explores the formative impact of Robert Mapplethorpe’s work in this coming-together of music and photography.



  • LA Phil New Music Group
  • Sara Jobin conductor
  • Bryce Dessner composer
  • Korde Arrington Tuttle featuring words by Essex Hemphill & Patti Smith librettist
  • Roomful of Teeth
  • Daniel Fish director
  • Jim Findlay video
  • Yuki Nakase lighting design
  • Carlos Soto costume design
  • Ashley Tata associate director
  • Talvin Wilks dramaturgy
  • ArKtype / Thomas O. Kriegsmann co-producer

About This Performance

Thirty years after the death of Robert Mapplethorpe, we still cannot turn away from what his photos reveal. Composer Bryce Dessner, Librettist Korde Arrington Tuttle and director Daniel Fish in collaboration with Roomful of Teeth and a musical ensemble of 12 players explore the ways Mapplethorpe’s works compel an audience’s complicity and characterizes them in the act of attention. As a young man growing up in Cincinnati, Dessner’s own exposure to the protests surrounding this galvanizing artist rooted a lifelong kinship to his pivotal body of work. Mapplethorpe’s pictures both unite and divide viewers, provoking a consideration of perceived opposites–their literal as well emotional and cultural meanings – Black/White, Male/Female, Gay/Straight, Art/Porn, Classical/Contemporary. His pictures seduce, shock, offend, excite, intrigue and scare us all at once.  Single images take our breath away through the classic capture of everyday acts of nature and the beauty of their composition. On the other hand, a single image has the power to reveal our fears and our desires and the razor-thin line between the two. We confront this work privately, flipping through coffee table books or seeing the work in a museum gallery. But in Triptych (Eyes of One on Another), Dessner, Tuttle & Fish ask an audience to experience these reactions collectively. Through music, projection of Mapplethorpe’s images, and the poetry of Tuttle, Essex Hemphill and Patti Smith, the work puts the audience inside the artist’s view finder, inside his beautiful, bold, voracious view of how nature and humans look, touch, feel, hurt and love one another.

Co-produced by Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel Music and Artistic Director. Produced in Residency with and Commissioned by University Musical Society, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. TRIPTYCH was co-commissioned by BAM; Luminato Festival, Toronto, Canada; Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, Athens, Greece; Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati, OH; Cal Performances, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA; Stanford Live, Stanford University, Stanford, CA; Adelaide Festival, Australia; John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for performance as part of DirectCurrent 2019; ArtsEmerson: World on Stage, Emerson College, Boston, MA; Texas Performing Arts, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX; Holland Festival, Amsterdam; Barbican Centre, London; Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH; and Celebrity Series, Boston, MA.

This project received a workshop through “Opera Fusion: New Works,” a joint venture between Cincinnati Opera and the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, and made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, as well as a residency development through MassMOCA, North Adams, MA.

Photo credits:
Alistair Butler, 1980 © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission.
Bryce Dressner photo by Shervin Lainez
Korde Arrington Tuttle photo courtesy of the artist
Roomful of Teeth photo by Bonica Ayala

Produced in cooperation with The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

Pre-Concert Talk: Upbeat Live
With Speaker to be announced – 7pm
Enhance your concert experience with a pre-concert talk starting at 7pm. Upbeat Live provides historical and cultural context for many concerts, featuring engaging speakers, audio examples, and special guests. These events are free to ticket holders and are held in BP Hall, on the second floor, accessible after your ticket is scanned.

Programs, artists, dates, prices and availability subject to change.