The evening, hosted by WQXR radio host Midge Woolsey, celebrates CCO's 2009-2010 season, which concludes on June 15 with the world premiere of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a fully staged opera by John Eaton at Symphony Space.
Festivities will begin at 8:00 p.m. with cocktails, followed by an exclusive performance by CCO artists of highlights from this season's offerings, which include: The Secret Agent by Michael Dellaira and J.D. McClatchy; Discord/Accord by Eric Salzman; and AnaÇs by Susan Hurley.
As part of a new program designed to introduce contemporary opera to university students, James Madison University's Opera Workshop will perform the New York premiere of Review, a short comic opera by Jeremy Beck and Patricia Marx. This 30-minute opera, which was recently previewed at Opera America's national convention to great acclaim, is based on a short story written by Marx for The New Yorker.
The writer recently chatted about Review:
Q: This opera is based on a short story that you wrote for The New Yorker. Describe the premise of the story in your own words.
Marx: It's a playlet about a group of people, sitting around gossiping and complaining _ about what exactly, though, is not initially clear. Now I will not only describe the premise, I will ruin the surprise of the story. The characters in the opera _ it is gradually revealed _ are dead, and they are critiquing life and a few of the still-living. The best part of a party, I think, is the post-mortem review you do with your friends; who wore a shockingly awful outfit, who flirted with whom, whether the hors d'oeuvres were plentiful enough, and so forth. This play is the ultimate post-mortem.
Q: Who approached you about an opera interpretation? Were you surprised by the project?
Marx: I was approached by Jeremy Beck, the composer. Was I surprised? Let's put it this way: I would have been less shocked if someone had asked me to adapt my grocery list into an Ice Capades show. But it wouldn't be the first time! A sentence in a book I wrote was turned into a brass plaque; it made me realize there is no place on a r_sum_ for mentioning plaques among your achievements.
Q: Have you ever been involved in, or had an interest in, opera or classical music?
Marx: That question sounded as if it were going to end with your asking me if I was a member of the communist party! I'm not very sophisticated when it comes to music. I like anything I've heard more than seven times and less than six hundred and thirty-four times. I have to pretend not to like the music in elevators. However, I have been going to the movie theater high-definition broadcasts of The Met performances. I really enjoy them, and not only because there are interviews with the costume designers and footage of the scenery being changed between acts!
Q: It seems you have a newly-found career as a comic opera librettist! Any future plans to convert the nonsensically lovesick subject of Him Her Him Again The End of Him into an opera heroine? Or perhaps Harvard Lampoon: The Opera!
Marx: Hmm. How about this for my next project? An opera adaption of this Playbill Arts interview! Can you sing?
CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY OPERA PRESENTS A GALA BENEFIT EVENING
Music by Jeremy Beck
Libretto by Patricia Marx
Friday, February 19 at 8 PM
National Arts Club
15 Gramercy Park South
8:00 PM _ Cocktail and small bites
8:20 PM _ Welcome / Performance of season highlights
8:45 PM _ Review by Jeremy Beck and Patricia Marx
Reception to follow
A minimum tax-deductible donation of $25 secures a ticket to the Gala. For reservations at the Individual ($25), Member ($50 for two tickets) and Friend ($100 for four tickets) levels, please visit www.brownpapertickets.com or call 1-800-838-3006.
For five or more tickets or to make a donation at a higher level of support (Donor: $250, Patron: $500, Benefactor: $1,000 and Angel: $2,500), please call the company's office at 347-265-8943 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All donations are greatly appreciated.