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Gerald Carpenter: Lobero Opens ‘The Portal’ on Megawatt Mysticism

The 'cosmic rock opera' will be in Santa Barbara for one night, at 9 p.m. Friday

Dante looks for Beatrice through The Portal.
Dante looks for Beatrice through The Portal.

The Portal, billed as a “cosmic rock opera” but which actually seems more of a multimedia movie-concert blend, will open in Santa Barbara for one performance at 9 p.m. Friday in the Lobero Theatre.

The show is fairly vague about its antecedents, but it seems to have been conceived and first performed in Colorado. It was written, directed and produced by Luke Comer, with most of the music composed and mixed by Tierro Lee, formerly of the tribal psychedelic band XanNal. The motion picture integrated with the live music was filmed in Arches National Park and other areas surrounding Moab, Utah, and stars Christopher Soner Kelly as Dante.

The Portal seeks to re-create an antique practice known as the Shamanic Journey, as described by Mircea Eliade in the book Shamanism: the Techniques of Ecstasy.

Despite the fact that the main character is named Dante and that he has strayed from the true path, and that he is led on his journey back to the path by a beautiful and mysterious woman named Beatrice, you will find no mention of “The Divine Comedy” in any of the materials — laudatory, explanatory, obfusticatory or otherwise — available online about The Portal. The Florentine Dante’s allegory of a journey through Hell and Purgatory to Paradise is just another shamanic journey to Comer and Lee.

Nevertheless, I’m sure the names were useful for their layered resonance. They would probably just as soon we forget the injunction that Dante read over the portal of Hell to “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” The poet you will find credited is Khalil Gibran.

From just about any link you pursue, you will learn that the show “weaves live music, cinematography, poetry and dramatic lighting for the ultimate multimedia experience. Experience the power of mythology as you follow Dante on his journey through deserts and mountains. While in pursuit of the beautiful and mysterious Beatrice, he is chased by archetypes emanating from his own mind. Along the way, the audience dances, chants and trances their way deeper into the mysteries of The Portal through fractals symbolizing midnight, cosmos, fire and water.”

If this sounds like your kind of journey, all seats to The Portal are $12. The doors open at 8 p.m., while the show begins, we are warned, at “9 p.m. sharp.” For tickets and more information, visit or call the Lobero box office at 805.963.0761.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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