Sunday, October 18, 2020

Operas asking for…love


Comically bawdy describes Episode 2: Prompted by Appetite from the four-part Tales from a Safe Distance, a mini opera showcase produced by the Decameron Opera Coalition.


For those readers who have not partaken yet of this vibrant, virtual—but not live—opera showcase, the Decameron Opera Coalition, a partnership of nine small opera companies spread across the United States are premiering in the month of October tiny operas running from 9 to 15 minutes long. The libretti are drawn from Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron in a contemporary update. The connecting opera is an extended piece called The Happy Hour by composer Peter Hilliard and librettist Matt Boresi.


On October 16, 2020, the Dresser enjoyed the premieres of Dinner 4 3 by composer Michael Ching and librettist Deborah Brevoort and The Roost by composer Marc Migó and librettist John de los Santos.


Dinner 4 3 produced by Fargo-Moorhead Opera of Fargo, North Dakota, features the story of a May-December couple who are equally unsatisfied with their partner’s sexual interaction, so they each resort to online dating with unexpected results. The title of this opera gives a clear hint for what comes about in this story. Michael Ching’s opening music has an expectant lilt accentuated by a rising stroke from the violin and a comic base answer from the bassoon. The ensuing music is sweet (when the husband tells the trophy wife he is traveling for business), sensuous (the wife sings to a snappy tango), and fluid (even the recitative moves along the narrative with interest). Mezzo-soprano Kate Jackman gives a standout performance as the wife.











 The Roost produced by UrbanArias of Washington, DC concerns a pregnant couple who take up residence in the spacious house of the wife’s parents (who are at their beach house) only to discover that the air-conditioning is on the fritz. What makes this story particularly comic is that the husband is the partner who is most bothered by the heat and it’s the pregnant wife who wants sex. Additionally, we learn via an Internet call that Grandma-to-be doesn’t share the political beliefs of the expectant couple. Marc Migó’s music is appropriately edgy and produced only by piano and clarinet. The Dresser’s favorite musical number is sung by the anti-Democratic matriarch. Her music has a folk music sensibility. The scenery and video film (some of it photographed by drone) steal the show.  



Tickets are priced ridiculous low at $15 for all four segments of this opera. At this date, Episodes 1 and 2 and their talkbacks are what is available. The debut of other segments airs as follows:



October 23, 2020 Episode 3: So Noble a Heart

  • “Orsa Ibernata” (Milwaukee Opera Theater | Milwaukee, WI)
  • “Seven Spells” (Opera in the Heights | Houston, TX)
  • “The Sky Where You Are” (An Opera Theater | Minneapolis, MN)

October 30, 2020 Episode 4: The Bolts of Fortune

  • “Sourdough: Rise Up” (Resonance Works | Pittsburgh, PA)
  • “Corsair” (Chicago Fringe Opera | Chicago, IL)
  • “The Happy Hour” (Conclusion)

As is The Dresser’s practice, she give the last words to a contemporary poet. Grace Cavalieri always has a lot to say about love and its complications. Asking for love as both Diner 4 3 and The Roost do causes undue stress. In this time of national strife, we all need more love and more belly laughs.




This poem is not usually like this

I don’t know what came over it

It’s mostly violet under the sun

with a large yellow parasol and a pond

with a center that never freezes

I swear I had no idea

I’m so used to trees of hearts and

cherries within its branches

I can’t imagine

what woke this poem up

with a truth I never wanted

It called the tower window and said

I was alone

That in itself is a morbid lie

I have long shadows in Autumn and clouds

anytime there is a sky

In fact everything was going so well until

this poem wanted to undress me

and bring back my love

and hold me close and rub

my forehead when I had a fever

It had no idea what trouble could come

from this so I wrote it

then I ran from it

now I can erase it

to show I never needed it after all

because don’t you know, Poem,

if you have to ask for something

it’s not a gift.


by Grace Cavalieri

from What the Psychic Said

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