Cries and Whispers

Cries And Whispers At Bergman Week 2015

Cries and Whispers – on Swedish press


Gritos e Sussurros
Viskningar och rop

music and libretto:
joão macdowell

Chamber Opera for Female Trio.
for Mezzo, Lyrical and Coloratura Sopranos


Poster by IF Studio NY. Design by Toshiaki and Hisa Ide. Photography by Athena Azevedo.

Poster by IF Studio NY. Design by Toshiaki and Hisa Ide. Photography by Athena Azevedo.


Instrumental arrangement for piano, cello, percussion and live electronics.


Laura –  The Maiden. Coloratura Soprano‚ younger sister, preparing to die.
Dinna – The Mother. Lyrical Soprano‚ middle sister, expansive personality.
Betty – The Crone. Mezzo Soprano, older sister, reclusive personality.


Performance History:

New York Concert Premiere (full length – 1h): March 26th, 2015.

Featuring: Maestro Néviton Barros.
Sopranos Kristin YoungAlexandra Filipe and Brooke Larimer.
Instrumentalists: Lisette SantiagoJulia Kost and Andrew Ranaudo.

New York Concert Preview (20min): March 7th and 8th, 2014.

Featuring: Maestro Néviton Barros.
Sopranos Shana GrossmanAlexandra Filipe and Brooke Larimer.
Instrumentalists: YinJia LinUka Gameiro,Rachel ScarpatiJulia Kost and Luigi Porto.



Listen to interview:

– Cries and Whispers – The Opera – on Swedish Radio Culture News: Kulturnytt.

– On Swedish TV: STV
Follow the score:

  • Instrumental suite of themes from the opera “Cries and Whispers” by Joao MacDowell.
    Premier recording at the Fårö Kirka, during the opening ceremony for Bergman Week, 2015. (Bergmanveckan)

Gotlands Blasarkvintett – Gotland Wind Quintet:
Lars Linna, flute
David Nisbel, oboe
Magnus Dungner, clarinet
Zbigniew Jakubowski, bassoon
Tomas Danielsson, horn
plus Henning Fredricksson on cello.



Cries&WhispersImage2B Small-Photo_by_Athena Azevedo





Composer’s notes:


Freely inspired by the homonymous film by Ingmar Bergman, and by the myth of the female trinity Goddess ruling over Fate. The story deals with three sisters who get together to prepare for the imminent death of the youngest.The narrative is not linear and it dwells in the vanishing realms of memories and dreams.

I have taken the idea of the plot in different directions, both reframing it in a Latin cultural context and diving into the mythic implications of the Hecate, three-fold entities known by many names, among them the Furies, Kindly Ones, Norns, Fates, Wicked Sisters, Dark Witches and White Goddess.

What attracted me to the story was that it deals with the female triad in a situation that is normally not thought of the myth. Usually, the Fates are seen in interaction with the lives of others.  Here we tell their own drama, as the three have to deal with death and loss among themselves.

I have always been interested in feminine pagan spirituality, and the fascination these entities have exerted over high and popular cultures. The presence of the female trinity appears throughout the spectrum of artistic expression, from Aeschylus’ “Agamemnon,” to Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” to DC Comics’ “The Witching Hour.

I always felt this to be a great title for an opera.  It gives a broad dynamic range for the voices, in all their somewhat triadic expression. Recently I found that Bergman himself appropriated the title from an essay about Mozart’s opera.

We share this connection with musical drama; from the liminal rituals of initiation to carnivals and opera, and then back to a place of magic, in the communion of the theatrical space.




Three Sisters 3
Preview of A Ilha – Documentary by Lais Azeredo and Pedro Urano about Joao MacDowell’s work at the island of Fårö, working at Ingmar Bergman’s estate.

Cries and Whispers: Coming Soon


Be a part of it: Support Future Projects!