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 ASKING FOR YOUR LOVE
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