Private Project

BAKUNAWA: Opera of the Seven Moons

Bakunawa rose from the ocean, so mesmerized by the light of the seven moons that she devoured them all. Dismayed, the people emerged, making noise and begging Bakunawa to give them back the moonlight. Bakunawa agreed and returned the
seventh moon back into the sky, thus creating the first lunar eclipse.

Part sonic ritual, part diasporic storytelling, BAKUNAWA: Opera of the Seven Moons is an experimental opera-film based on Micaela Tobin’s critically- acclaimed album of the same name that reclaims the pre-colonial mythology of the Philippines back from centuries of violent, colonial erasure.

  • Micaela Tobin
  • Katie Stenberg (Director of Photography)
  • Micaela Tobin
  • Rhea Fowler
  • Micaela Tobin
  • Madeline Falcone
  • Micaela Tobin
    Key Cast
  • Christopher Florendo
    Key Cast
    "Babaylan "
  • Maria Maea
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Experimental, Music Video, Short
  • Genres:
    Experimental, Mythology, Opera
  • Runtime:
    42 minutes 37 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 1, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    19,801 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Micaela Tobin, Katie Stenberg (Director of Photography)

Micaela Tobin is a soprano, sound artist, and teacher based in Los Angeles, CA who specializes in experimental voice and contemporary opera, composing under the moniker "White Boy Scream." Within this project Micaela dissects her operatic and extended vocal techniques through the use of electronics. She has performed extensively throughout the western United States, most notably as a guest with hip-hop experimentalists clipping. during their 2017 tour in support of The Flaming Lips. Micaela’s most recent full length release, “BAKUNAWA” (Deathbomb Arc) is part sonic ritual, part diasporic storytelling. Of the album, Steve Smith of The New Yorker Magazine asserts that “opera would do well to pay attention.”

Previously, Tobin and Stenberg have made two short music videos for Tobin's music. "THOU" (2018) and "APOLAKI" (2020).

As an opera composer, Micaela premiered and earned a five-star review for her first original experimental opera, entitled "Unseal Unseam," at the world’s largest art festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, in summer 2016; the work was described as “hypnotic” and “paralyzingly beautiful,” by New Classic LA after its U.S. debut in October 2017. Her most recent opera, “Belarion: A Space Opera” which premiered at the American Legion Center in Pasadena, CA in February 2019, is about the magickal practices of JPL founder Jack Parsons.

As a performer, Micaela most recently played the principal role of Coyote in the critically acclaimed opera, SWEET LAND (dir. Yuval Sharon & Canuppa Luger; Comp. Raven Chacon & Du Yun). She also performed with The Industry in their groundbreaking opera, "Hopscotch, a mobile opera for 24 cars (dir. Yuval Sharon)." Other major roles include the poet Mina Loy in the opera "Dada Divas" (dir. Jacqueline Bobak) which has toured internationally both in Europe and Mexico; as a principal vocalist in the premiere of Ron Athey and Sean Griffith’s automatic opera, “Gifts the Spirit”; and as a soprano soloist alongside Annette Bening in the play "Medea" at UCLALive.

Micaela is currently a voice teacher on faculty at the California Institute for the Arts and teaches privately out of her home in Los Angeles, CA.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Dedicated to my Ancestors and their myths— may they never be erased. May this film serve as a bridge for my family and for anyone who feels lost in the diaspora.

This opera-film is a sonic reclamation of the stories that colonizers violently stole and attempted to erase from my Ancestors for centuries.
Centering the mythology of the Philippines in an artistic arena that has been traditionally Euro-centric is a ritualized act of healing.
This operatic ritual blends musical genres and site-specific performance practice as a way to connect to my motherland across the diaspora, creating a sonic bridge from the California coast across the vastness of the Pacific Ocean.