Knot an Opera by Constantin Basica
Freshly Squeezed Opera Provokes
By: Susan Hall - Jul 03, 2018
Knot an Opera
By Constantin Basica
Andy Dwan, "Baritone"
Cara Search, "Mezzo Soprano"
Joanie Brittingham, "Coloratura Soprano"
Francesca Federico, "Lyric Soprano,
Sarah Dutcher, 'Keyboards"
Michael Hofmann, director
Whitney George, music director
Matthew Wasser, projection design
Jennifer Burkhardt, lighting design
Corina Chase, costume design
Michael Minahan, set design
Baruch Performing Arts Center
New York, New York
Knot an Opera is an amusing and provocative presentation by Freshly Squeezed Opera, mounted at the Baruch Center in New York. The company is committed to genre pushing new works of the highest caliber that explore the depths of the opera form.
Composer Constantin Basica tells us that this work knots traditional opera practices with elements of old and new media into a chain of preposterous events. We are on the border between the mundane and the absurd. Interludes and sketches are interspersed with videos.
The initial interlude is a familiar vocal warm-up on ma, me, mi, mo, mu stretched out, pitched absurdly high, suggesting just how difficult performing this art form is. While the voice is central to the form, even in exercise sounds, Knot an Opera brings us to the heart of opera, its over-the-top presentation.
The news broadcast that follows, anchored by a baritone and soprano, suggests that opera will die if we continue to offer ancient music to ancient people.
Breaking out into a commercial for Bud Light, and Soprano Light, suggests how we can attract a different audience in a familiar commercial form. Virtual reality in opera surely brings us to new vision.
The central portion of interludes and scenes takes place around a table, where traditional manners are taken up, and then cats’ manners are absurdly contrasted. The ultimate aria on potatoes reduces to ridicule the familiar arias on love, hope and death.
Could we enjoy the form sung by heads, here called Chatbots? Meemas are girls whose mothers make up weird nicknames for their child(ren). Said girls have so many friends, they can't number them!
The crowning moment is an Academy Award acceptance speech rooted in the treble signature in 4/4 time.
In the midst of these moments you tilt back your head in amazement and often laugh. We enjoy the creation of random words in song.
How deliberate must words be chosen in opera? Perhaps only as guides to the emotion contained in the music that lofts them? They are thoroughly entertaining in any case. Opportunities are afforded for the singers to improvise. There is a sort-of conductor and a live pianist from time to time.
The singers enter the lively spirit of this 'opera', displaying their voices while at the same time celebrating craziness. Michael Hofmann directs to keep the action moving and to highlight extreme moments. Opera can surely survive with productions like Knot an Opera.