Empire was a brief sub-section of Robert Ashley’s monumental opera Atalanta (Acts of God), which, in its entirety, comprised nine hours of music. Atalanta centered on three characters, each meant to represent different components of the operatic form: narrative, visual, and musical. While each character was given his or her turn when Atalanta was performed in full, Empire focused on Willard, the narrative character. Atalanta took place in the Great Depression and related the invention of tomato soup. Ashley originally intended the anachronistic combination of the Greek myth of Atalanta and the Great Depression to be a humorous one, however, the reference became all too relevant in the context of recovery from the 1990 Recession.


Empire was performed by four participants: Robert Ashley and Thomas Buckner, who acted at The Kitchen, as well as Sam Ashley and Jacqueline Humbert, who performed on live video from Santa Monica, California. It was for this innovative use of technology and social connectivity that Empire was included in The Kitchen’s 1995 performance series, Through the Distance: Musical Connections.

Supplemental Information

Postcard [PDF]
Village Voice Review [PDF]
Program [PDF]
Postcard [PDF]

Similar Events

Four Films on Four American Composers
John Cage, Meredith Monk, Peter Greenway, Philip Glass, Robert Ashley
See More: Film/Video, 1980s
The Kitchen: Benefit Concert 1978
Laurie Anderson, Meredith Monk, Philip Glass, Robert Ashley, Steve Reich
See More: Literature, Music, Performance, 1970s
View From a Volcano
Arthur Russell, Arto Lindsay, Beastie Boys, Bill T. Jones, Carolee Schneemann, Charlemagne Palestine, Charles Atlas, Christian Marclay, Cindy Sherman, Dara Birnbaum, Elizabeth Streb, Eric Bogosian, Gary Hill, George Lewis, Joan Jonas, John Miller, Karole Armitage, Laurie Anderson, Lawrence Weiner, Lucinda Childs, Matt Mullican, Meredith Monk, Mike Kelley, Philip Glass, Rhys Chatham, Robert Ashley, Robert Longo, Simone Forti, Sonic Youth, Steina and Woody Vasulka, Stuart Sherman, Talking Heads, Tony Conrad, Tony Oursler, Trisha Brown, Vito Acconci
See More: Exhibitions, Film/Video, 2010s
Between Thought and Sound: Graphic Notation in Contemporary Music
Alison Knowles, Alvin Lucier, Annea Lockwood, Anthony Jay Ptak, Cathy Berberian, Christian Wolff, Cornelius Cardew, David Behrman, David Tudor, Earle Brown, Elliott Sharp, Gordon Matta-Clark, Gordon Mumma, James Beckett, James Saunders, Joan La Barbara, John Driscoll, Jon Gibson, Kaffe Matthews, Laura Andel, Marina Rosenfeld, Meredith Monk, Michael J. Schumacher, Miya Masaoka, Morton Feldman, Robert Ashley, Stephen Vitiello, Steve Roden, Tom Johnson, Tony Conrad, Wadada Leo Smith, Yasunao Tone
See More: Exhibitions, Music, 2000s