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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Vengeance of the Bat

New komischebuchoper to premiere in 2019 at the Gotham Grand Opera.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The Dark Knight...sings? Ildar Abdrazakov (right) prepares for the title role in the GGO's forthcoming opera
Die Rache von der Fledermausmensch. 
Photo of Ildar Abdrazakov by Dario Acosta © 2014.
Background image from Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, image © Midway Entertainment.
Batman, BatSignal and Batman Mask all © Detective Comics/Warner Brothers Entertainment.
A childhood trauma. A gritty urban landscape. A bloody revenge. All these elements will come together in the Gotham Grand Opera's newest project: an operatic pastiche based on one of the greatest popular myths in modern American culture. The opera,  titled Die Rache von der Fledermausmensch is being staged in collaboration with Detective Comics and Warner Brothers, and marks a new level of cinematic opera entertainment, the komischebuchoper.

"We believe that opera should speak to the masses," said GGO assistant commissioner of media relations James "Jim" Gordon. "This new collaboration between Hollywood and Lincoln Center will result in a rise in audience participation as the singers fly high above the audience."

The new opera will be sung in German (for some reason) and is scheduled to premiere on April 1, 2019. The libretto, by the respected independent filmmaker and comic book auteur Kevin Smith will recount the murder of Bruce von Vayne's parents following a performance of Boito's Mefistofele, and the young billionaire's subsequent battle against crime while struggling to turn his head in a heavy rubber suit and understand the bad jokes of his arch-nemesis, der Witzbold.

The details were announced today in an exclusive media event, attended by Superconductor reporters who hid inside an unused rehearsal piano to record details of the announcement.

"Like the recent boffo baroque smash The Enchanted Island, this new opera Die Fledermausmensch will be a pastiche, cobbled together from the very best bits of no less than five composers named Strauss, two named Wagner, and one named Elliot Goldenthal," Mr. Gordon said.

The score combines the powerful chords of Richard Strauss' Elektra and Die Frau Ohne Schatten with the delicate waltzes of Viennese operetta by Johann Strauss Jr. and his family. Mr. Goldenthal's contribution will mostly consist of tropes from his scores for Batman Forever and Batman and Robin, themselves influenced by the Prelude to Act II of Richard Wagner's Parsifal. Alan Gilbert is in talks to conduct.

The project reunites Mr. Goldenthal with the opera's director, Hollywood legend Joel Schumacher, whose extensive film resume includes Flashdance, Falling Down and The Client. Mr. Schumacher will be assisted by an all-star team including designers from New York's hottest fetish-wear designers, architects from the recent Sochi Olympics and a group of talented (and non-union) choristers from a recent East Village Light Opera Company production of Utopia Limited. In a statement, Mr. Schumacher's representative Denton Harvey stated "We are excited to bring rubber nipples before a New York audience."

Headng the cast  is Ildar Abdrazakov (Attila, Prince Igor) in the role of Bruce von Vayne, the orphaned little rich boy who grows up to become the terrifying Fledermausmensch. Mr. Abdrazakov, who was recently referred to as the "Dark Knight" on the cover of Opera News, was enthusiastic about the part, stating that he was looking forward to the opportunity to expressively act while losing water weight while encased in a rubber Batsuit. Soprano Deborah Voigt is in the early running for girl reporter Vicki Vale.

The coquettish soprano Danielle DeNiese is lobbying to play the villainous latex-loving whip-cracking Katzenjammerfrauen. Countertenor  David Daniels is in early talks to play the show's comic villain, Der Witzbold. Other iconic figures in the story will include bass-baritone Alan Held in the role of Alfred Wertpfennig and soprano Anna Netrebko in a rare German-language role: that of Die Giftsumach.

"The rendition of the iconic "Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na" leitmotif in the Wagner tubas will keep the audience awake, while delicate harp and electric guitar can illustrate the complex cat-and-bat romance between the title character and the lovely, rubber-clad Katzenjammerfrauen. Endless comic opportunities exist with the character of Der Witzbold-he's like Pagliacci with a higher body-count--that should appeal to today's audiences."

"Infectious pell-mell polkas will indicate the signature car-chase sequence. This will be staged on surplus flying rigs from the recntly closed Broadway smash Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark. To accomodate the high-tech flying machinery the Gotham Opera will remove its iconic chandeliers from the auditorium. These treasured items will ll be placed in storage in a Swiss bank until Die Fledermausmensch proves to be a box office success.

"We feel that this iconic character belongs on (and above) the stage at the Gotham Grand Opera," said assistant commissioner Gordon, speaking on behalf of management. "This new show allows us to combine the cutting-edge technology of our recent staging of Der Ring des Nibelungen with the leftover flying rigs that worked so well for Spider-Man. He added: "We forsee a thrilling ride for singers and audience alike."
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.