A rarely performed 20th-century opera and a new work confront the clash of ideology and emotion
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 20, 2013
The personal is definitely political in
two operas onstage this month in both Benjamin Britten’s Owen Wingrave,
in which a young man chooses pacifism over a military career, and Fellow Travelers, based on the novel about a gay love affair during the McCarthy era.
by Drew Klein
18 days ago
CAC performance curator Drew Klein reports from NYC
The main event Thursday
evening was not a part of Performa 13. Instead, the evening saw my virgin visit
to the Metropolitan Opera to take in the final night of composer (and frequent
Cincinnati visitor) Nico Muhly's Two Boys.
Muhly became the youngest composer to be commissioned by the Met when they
asked him to create a new work in 2006. Having a run in 2011 in London in a
co-production with English National Opera, Two Boys finally made its American
debut last month.
Based on true
events in Manchester, England, 10 years ago, the story centers on a seemingly
normal 16-year-old boy and his involvement in a confusing web of chat room
relationships that ultimately lead to him stabbing and nearly killing a 13-year-old boy. It was, shall we say, not your standard opera fare. While I've not
been to many an opera in my life thus far, I don't imagine there have been many
to have featured projected chat acronyms and two separate instances of onstage
masturbation. But on to the show.
The story of Two Boys is a complicated one, without question. A young boy has been
stabbed, his friend and the only witness, Brian, is the key suspect, and an
over-worked and under-appreciated police detective is tasked with putting the
pieces together in a case she never wanted to take. As we begin to learn more
about Brian, we are shown a world of chat room conversations and desperate boys
seeking connections that mean something. By the end, we understand that the
young boy pretended to be three different people in various roles and chats
with Brian, concocting an insanely complex story before, essentially,
convincing Brian to stab him while he would repeat, “I love you, bro” to the
dying boy. Everyone has access to a search engine, so I'll let you look up the
story on your own...
triumph for Two Boys is the set design and realization of an online world on
a physical stage. Multiple large-scale projections land upon movable walls that
dance across the stage at various depths. Frequently these walls become
transparent and reveal young people inside, half-illuminated by laptop screens.
The multimedia execution inspired and amazed, serving to highlight the
production's digital world concept and add a new and exciting layer to a
traditional performance form.
Knowing Muhly's work rather well, and having
enjoyed the chance to see him twice in Cincinnati in the past 18 months as part
of MusicNOW and Tatiana Berman's Constella Festival, I was eager to hear what
he had done for Two Boys. I was somewhat surprised — though pleased — to find
that this work did not veer too far from his compositional oeuvre; dark with
intricate rhythms, the score never threatens to take complete control of the
production, while the influence of modern composers like Benjamin Britten and
Meredith Monk, as he acknowledged in the program notes, could be felt
throughout. For me, the standout compositional moments came in the form of
choral scenes performed by the company carrying laptops in their hands, faces
lit and animated by the screens, feeling like a reference to the pull of the
digital world and the countless hours young people like Brian spend seeking
something of meaning in an environment of empty promises. Multi-layered lines
repeating chat room requests and responses, the voices build to a disorienting
swirl. In these moments, the marriage of precocity, tradition, and progressivism
felt too immense to not hold your breath.
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 21, 2013
From Bach and contemporary composer Missy Mazzoli
to rarely performed operas and superstar vocal and instrumental
soloists, Cincinnati's fall arts season underscores the creative shifts in musical
programming. It’s not easy to choose highlights from an abundance of
great offerings, but here’s one per month.
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Opera is the operative word for June.
Cincinnati Opera kicks off its 93rd season with expanded venues,
programming and some of the hottest singers on the scene.
0 Comments · Tuesday, February 14, 2012
The idea of “dance theater”
(“Tanztheater” in German) evolved from expressionist dance in 1920s
Vienna, with a new form developing and spreading throughout Central
Europe beginning in 1917. The term re-emerged during the 1980s and Pina
Bausch, a student of one of the leaders of this school of dance, became a
new school practioner of note.
Cincinnati Opera’s Spanish-themed season offers creative, classic selections
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Cincinnati Opera’s summer season isn’t quite virtual travel, but you can experience Spain at four pivotal moments in its long history. Three operas are standard repertoire and one contemporary work has its regional premiere. And all were written by foreigners. “There’s a rich Spanish tradition of literature but it just didn’t make (it) into opera,” says Cincinnati Opera’s artistic director Evans Mirageas.
Robin Guarino brings vast experience to her new job at CCM
0 Comments · Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Collaboration is a very active verb in Robin Guarino’s vocabulary.The new J. Ralph Corbett distinguished chair in opera at UC’s College-Conservatory of Music is widely acclaimed for her work with stage designers, choreographers and performers and recognized as an innovative educator training students in the arduous pursuit of a professional opera career.