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Monday, February 28, 2011

City Opera Spring 2011 Preview: Pump Boys and Psychics

The New York City Opera is scheduled to open its spring season on March 22, with a slate of three productions.
Belcore (David Kempster) in a scene from the ENO L'Elisir d'Amore.
Photo © 2009 English National Opera
In the interests of artistic cooperation (and cost-saving), the City Opera will offer one revival, (L'Elisir d'Amore), and one import (Séance on a Wet Afternoon) The third is a tryptich of three Monodramas, one-act operas performed by one singer each. The three operas are by John Zorn, Arnold Schoenberg and Morton Feldman.

L'Elisir d'Amore opens on March 22. This production of Donizetti's bubbling romantic comedy is a collaboration with the English National Opera.

Jonathan Miller's production, first seen at City Opera in 2006, updates the action to the era immediately following World War II. Nemorino is a hapless pump boy, working next to Adina's Diner, somewhere in the American West. Belcore is an aggressive recruiter for Uncle Sam. Dr. Dulcamara's "elixir" is reimagined as Coca-Cola. But the music is still Donizetti, with one of his most imaginative and richly comic scores.

The Monodramas arrive on March 25. These three works include John Zorn's La Machine d'etre, a new work inspired by the drawings of Antonin Artaud; Erwartung by Arnold Schoenberg; and the U.S. stage premiere of Neither by American composer Morton Feldman. The last is based on the writings of Samuel Beckett.

The three works feature (respectively) sopranos Anu Komsi, Kara Shay Thompson and Cyndia Sieden.
Lauren Flanigan goes beyond the infinite in Séance on a Wet Afternoon.
Photo by David Bazemann © 2009 The Santa Barbara Independent
The season wraps up with the April 19 New York premiere of Stephen Schwartz' Séance on a Wet Afternoon. The opera stars City Opera mainstay Lauren Flanigan as psychic Myra Foster. Ms. Flanigan sang the premiere of this work (in Santa Barbara, 2009) and has been with the opera ever since the piece was in its workshop stage.

The production stars City Opera mainstay diva Lauren Flanigan. Ms. Flanigan will bring the same level of intensity and laser-like soprano that is all to familiar to attendees  of past City Opera triumphs, including Intermezzo, Lizzie Borden and last season's revival of Esther. Myra is a psychic who resorts to kidnapping and fraud in a last-ditch effort to legitimize her gifts and social standing. We predict... that the opera will have a tragic ending.

Stephen Schwartz rose to fame as a Broadway composer. Among his credits include the scores for Godspell, Pippin, and the biggest show on Broadway at the moment: Wicked. This is his first opera.

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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.