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Karen O in Stop the Virgens

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Seven years ago, Karen O started working on an album that never saw the light of day. She came to realize the material "was much broader than... a rock record." Heavily inspired by cinema and theater during her writing process, Karen says she always envisioned the record as more than just music but never had the right outlet for it. Finally, the manifestation of this introspective exercise comes in the form of a psycho-opera of sorts, entitled Stop the Virgens, which debuted last October in DUMBO at St. Ann's Warehouse in conjunction with our Creators Project: New York event.

She teamed up with co-creator and production designer K.K. Barrett (who has worked on films like Where the Wild Things Are and Lost In Translation) to conceive what Karen describes as an assault on the tragic joys of youth, fever dreams drenched in visual seduction, a cathartic spell spun through a cycle of nine songs. No one, not even Karen and K.K., was quite sure how to categorize the genre-blending performance. Its narrative doesn’t flow quite like that of a musical--the effect is a lot more emotional and dramatic, closer to an opera... but then again, it's no Carmen or La Boheme, and Karen's bewitching cries are not those of your average soprano. Director Adam Rapp says it's an "autobiographical journey for her, she's putting it all out there in that way." The psycho-opera, produced by The Studio, is an extremely multi-disciplinary and chaotic visual treat as it combines theater with rock music, enhanced with video projections and technology. And yes, Karen's outlandish style will be spotlighted, as her personal costume designer Christian Joy is outfitting the entire cast. It seems to be an experience better seen than described, as fellow Yeah Yeah Yeah's bandmate Nick Zinner says: "It's unlike anything I've ever seen or heard. It's going to blow people's minds."

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At a glance

We go behind the scenes of Karen O and K.K. Barrett's psycho-opera Stop the Virgens to see how this unique piece developed from a record written seven years ago into a live, unpreceded emotional journey. Production Credits Co-creators: Karen O & K.K. Barrett Director: Adam Rapp Music Direction: Sam Spiegel and Nick Zinner Produced by: The Creators Project Executive Producer: Mark Subias Line Producer: Laura Roumanos Choreography: Mariangela Lopez Choir Direction and conducted by: Debra Barsha Costume Design: Christian Joy Make Up and Hair Design: Mike Potter Projection Design: Darrel Maloney Lighting Design: Keith Parham Sound Design: Andres Velasquez Sound Design and Engineer: Jamie McElhinney Production Manager: Jeremiah Thies Featuring: Money Mark, Jack Lawrence, Patrick Keeler, Brian Chase, Nick Zinner, Jason Grisell, Gillian Rivers, Yuiko Kamakari, Justin Kantor Ian Young, Frank London and Lili Taylor The World Premiere of STOP THE VIRGENS was presented at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, New York in October, 2011. Photo by James Medcraft.