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Thursday, June 7, 2012

I Have Walked Through The Valley Of Death

Carmen Murphy
Development Manager, Individual Giving
I have walked through the Valley of Death.....Death Valley, that is.

On my recent vacation to Las Vegas, my husband Simon and I took a side trip to Zabriskie Point, in Death Valley National Park. He was intrigued by the unique landscape and wanted to see and photograph the area, made famous by the eponymous movie. I also learned later that an episode of Star Trek was filmed at or near Zabriskie Point.

So, we set out in scorching desert heat (in an air-conditioned car) for 2 amd a half hours to find Zabriskie Point.

Through Death Valley...

At one point, the Google map instructed us to turn at Death Valley Junction. At this turning, an interesting building caught my eye. The sign read “Amargosa Opera House”. I remarked that it was a very odd place to have an opera house...and on the way back from Zabriskie Point (well worth the drive), we stopped and I had my photo taken under the sign. The building seemed to have not only an opera house, but an art gallery, cafe, and hotel. There was no-one around, and at any moment I expected a tumbleweed to roll past.

Cue tumbleweeds....
When we returned home, I did some research and was shocked to discover that Death Valley Junction has a population of 4. At times, the population has been reported as being as many as 20. Interesting that an opera house could be sustained by so few.

Marta Becket
Marta Becket, legendary and fascinating as an artist and ballerina is the driving force behind this opera house. She is the reason it exists. We were so intrigued that we borrowed a DVD from the library, titled Amargosa, which was fantastic! Emmy award winning, and Academy award nominated, it describes Marta Becket’s journey from New York to Death Valley Junction. She is now in her late 80’s but only ceased performing in her 1-woman show at the Amargosa Opera House in February 2012.

I was humbled to learn of her creative drive, and of her determination to perform, sometimes to only the audience that she had handpainted on the walls of the opera house. She is an inspiration to anyone who is creative, and her incredible spirit must have drawn me to stop and discover what she had built in Death Valley Junction.

- Carmen Murphy, Development Manager, Individual Giving

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