Friday, October 28, 2011

Opera Shorts at Weill Recital Hall

Shakespeare said "brevity is the soul of wit" and the Remarkable Theater Brigade takes the bard at his word when they present their third annual night of "Opera Shorts" at Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall on November 4th. This year's line-up features ten operas, each ten minutes long, by some outstanding living composers. This operatic version of speed-dating is just the thing for all who have squirmed through Wagner or endless recitative of Baroque opera.

For the first time in the series, operas by the Pulitizer Prize-winning William Bolcom, Jake Heggie (the lauded composer of the opera Dead Man Walking), Davide Zannoni and Mike McFerron will be presented. Opera Shorts composers Tom Cipullo, Marie Incontrera, Anne Dinsmore Phillips, Patrick Soluri and Remarkable Theater Brigade co-founder artistic director Christian McLeer will also present their own 10 minute operas. Over the course of its three seasons, Opera Shorts has presented works by some of the finest composers of our time, including John Corigliano, Tania Leon, Mark Adamo and Seymour Barab. 

William Bolcom
Monica Harte, the company's co-founder and general director shares some insights, "Opera is usually considered this "Very Serious Thing," but Opera Shorts is fun and irreverent and infectious. It's not all suits and gowns -- it's more laidback. I mean our logo is a pair of boxer shorts, after all!"

Like past seasons, this year's line-up is pretty eclectic. The Heggie piece, Again, is especially intriguing. Heggie offers a creepy behind-the-scenes look at television's iconic Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel as their lives are consumed by their TV show. It's all quite believable and in character for the masterful Heggie and the magnificent job he did in portraying Sister Helen Prejean and the murderer Joseph De Rocher in Dead Man Walking.

Jake Heggie
Gimmicky? Perhaps, but also important in helping people to appreciate new music. "Audiences can sometimes be a little frightened of contemporary music, and this sort of program lets listeners feel it out, sample things," says Harte. 

Some recommended albums by Opera Shorts composers:

William Bolcom: Songs of Innocence and Experience

Jake Heggie: Passing By, Songs by Jake Heggie

Long Island Songs by Tom Cipullo, George Brunner, Anne Dinsmore Phillips, 
Christian McLeeer

--Craig Zeichner
Editor, Ariama

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