Dark Exhalation (2025) [Upcoming/Unreleased]

35mm, Color and B&W, 45 min, Sound

Email hoganseidel at gmail dot com for screener or print rental.


Dark Exhalation is a new chamber opera for four vocalists and amplified ensemble (flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, double bass, percussion) that incorporates techniques from cinematic sound design to transform everyday sounds into dynamic, highly textured musical compositions.

This sci-fi ghost story approaches the opioid epidemic in a poetic, metaphorical way to consider addiction in a new light. The events of the opera play out against the backdrop of a massive solar storm: a billion ton cloud of charged particles and plasma released by the Sun that can wreak havoc on satellites, communication systems, and power grids. Each of the characters confront the storm in their own way.

Lavinia has just returned from her wife Helen’s memorial service with an urn containing her ashes. She is troubled by her beloved’s transformation into dust and begins to imagine that Helen’s spirit has instead fused with the Sun—akin to the ancient heroes that became constellations. But in the days that follow the Sun begins to behave in an increasingly erratic and hazardous manner; prompting Lavinia to reflect on Helen’s life and her slow descent into addiction.

Meanwhile, Wendell only moved to the City from the Gulf Coast of Florida a few months ago. His Uncle Henry got him a job as a handyman and free rent. He’s always loved fixing things. Almost as much as he loves sailboats and shorebirds. When, in response to elevated solar activity, the birds in his neighborhood become disoriented and begin crashing into buildings at an alarming rate Wendell is profoundly affected. He manages to save just one—a house sparrow. He names him Ori—short for Orpheus—and the two swiftly become inseparable.

A few days later NASA confirms that the unusual solar activity—sunspots gathering like clouds and a series of solar flares—has generated a massive solar storm that is presently hurtling towards Earth. The residents of The City confront impending catastrophe: massive power outages, communication blackout, scarcity, and cold. As well as the choice of whether to evacuate or ride out the storm.

Unearthly auroras illuminate the night sky in a wild array of colors: yellow-green, fluorescent blue, and blood red. As the storm draws closer, Lavinia and Wendell both contemplate whether staying in town was the correct choice. With the storm’s arrival they become isolated by a communication blackout and unsafe conditions. But the storm’s arrival also brings unexpected connections that illuminate the generative possibilities of fragility, the depths of kindness, and new ways forward.

Hogan Seidel©