Jerry Bowles at Sequenza 21 mentioned a new opera that will be performed at Tufts University this spring. Nancy and Tonya: The Opera is -- yes, that's right -- about the figure skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding, who became infamous when the latter's associate clubbed the former's knee. Elizabeth Searle wrote the libretto, and Tufts graduate student Abigail Al Dorry composed the music.
A few days ago, I mentioned (Russian National Orchestra, October 24) the new opera in the works from gazillionaire composer Gordon Getty. It's on Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher, and the Russian National Orchestra "premiered" a few excerpts at a private concert in Moscow last week.
Robert Levine's article (7 composers and a 1st-time librettist, September 22) for the New York Times reported on the new opera Seven Attempted Escapes from Silence, premiered at the Berlin Staatsoper, which I should have mentioned last month but didn't. The libretto is by novelist Jonathan Safran Foer, and the music was contributed by seven different composers, sections that were actually staged by seven different directors. This all took place in an unusual venue, the industrial storage facility underneath the Staatsoper, not its stage. Shirley Apthorp's article (Safran Foer's Opera Libretto Gets Mangled in Berlin Production, September 26) for Bloomberg News adds an interesting perpspective to the work. I will see if I can drum up some more reviews, to give a better idea of what it was like.
All I can say about the next one is "Huh?" Tom Service reports in The Guardian (Opera babes, October 25) on Glyndebourne's youth opera project, trying to bring 18- to 30-year-olds to an interest in opera. It's a new touring opera called Tangier Tattoo, and Service spoke with members of a rock band who saw it. The music is by John Lunn, and the libretto is by Stephen Plaice. Service describes it as "a tale of drugs, sex, terrorism and skin decoration, subjects that emerged from focus groups as the most likely to turn on the target audience." How did the rock band react?
The Suffrajets and I pile back into our minibus. Reactions are still mixed. "The singing does my head in," Gemma says, "and I don't understand why they couldn't just speak the words. It would have worked better that way." Claire is still the voice of optimism: "The only thing that didn't work was the music. There weren't any good tunes. If the songs had been really amazing, you'd be like, guns and bikinis and motorbikes and amazing songs! That would have been brilliant." Alex disagrees: "It seemed insulting to my intelligence. It was a bit young for me. I know what real opera is like, and most people my age will know what opera is, and therefore they're going to look at it and think that wasn't the real thing." Vicky says: "They've tried to take things from TV, and things from musicals and films, and put them all together. People don't understand what to make of it."Toward the end of the article, Service says that "they all agree that they would rather have seen a conventional opera than something they felt was trying to be a film." Hmm, imagine that. Yes, I think opera already has enough shocking material as it is. There is no need to tramp it up, for heaven's sake.