Once She Dries

An experimental opera by Breathing Bass

Once she Dries is a love story

between coral reef

a rain cloud

and the Pantheon.

Coral loves Cloud

Pantheon loves Coral

and Cloud is


This opera is based on three true stories of science:

1. Coral reefs are heading towards extinction by the end of this century. In their absence, a quarter of marine life will lose their home, half a billion people’s livelihood will be compromised, and our land will be threatened by dangerous storms that reefs currently dissipate.

2. When overheated and at risk of bleaching, coral reefs emit a pheromone-like bio-chemical that triggers water vapors to form cooling cloud formation directly overhead. Coral has the ability to attract a cloud.

3. To help resuscitate reef life, scientists have begun dropping tiny concrete pellets that simulate the texture of coral and support healthy habitats for ecologies to regrow and thrive.

(3 ½. The Pantheon happens to be the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world.)

Once She Dries follows its non-human protagonists as they reshape their sense of love and lasting in the anthropocene age.

What you experience on this website will be less a simulation of the entire opera and more of a behind-the-scenes tour.

You’ll see various vignettes presented in a non-linear, interactive fashion.

Don’t worry, this experience won’t spoil how the show ends. You’ll find that out when we present the work live (ideally beachside).

For now, we’re offering you glimpses and clues at what takes place between Coral, Cloud and the Pantheon. We hope you enjoy peering inside.

Hint: After starting your journey, you can click on various texts and images to move the story forward. Sometimes the story goes on by itself...

Please turn on the volume, it is best to use good speakers or headphones.

I long for Coral to cry my name,

Retracting claims against

My rough and crumbled constitution.

Won’t she sees our resemblance


A collaboration between the Breathing Bass, Meagan Woods and Xinyue Liu

  • Story and Text: Meagan Woods
  • Web Design and Development: Casper Leerink
  • Video Design: Xinyue Liu

Breathing Bass Ensemble

  • Kourosh Ghamsari-Esfahani: violin
  • Katerina Gimmon: vocals
  • Chris Blaber: percussion
  • Casper Leerink: piano

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

Thank you to the Ensemble in Residence program at SFU's School for the Contemporary Arts.

More information on the precarious health of coral reefs…

and the possibilities of using concrete to save these habitats…

Quick coral stats:
  • Reefs support over 4,000 fish species, about a quarter of all marine life.
  • Roughly half a billion people earn their livelihood through the opportunities reefs provide.
  • There’s hope that tiny creatures living in reefs might provide treatments for deadly diseases such as cancer and viruses.
  • If conditions do not improve, 98% of coral reefs may experience fatal conditions by 2030.
  • At this rate, storms will wreak havoc on our land with rates of flooding up by 70% and the biodiversity that reefs support will be decimated.
More on the relationships between coral, clouds, and concrete: Read how coral creates clouds to cool down Watch how concrete pellets nestle into and support reef habitats Learn how new cement process techniques are mimicking the way that coral grow