Wolfe's "Bonfire of the Vanities" Getting a Colorful Operatic Make-Over

News   Wolfe's "Bonfire of the Vanities" Getting a Colorful Operatic Make-Over
 
Tom Wolfe's celebrated debut novel "The Bonfire of the Vanities," about the racism, greed and politics in 1980's Wall Street, is being adapted for the first time into a stage opera. New York's El Museo del Barrio will host the premiere this October, the New York Times reported.

Performances will run Oct. 9 and 10, featuring music by Stefania de Kenessey and libretto and direction by Michael Bergmann.

"With a twist of rock and piercing wit, opera demolishes Wall Street in this groundbreaking adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s classic," states a description on the show's website. "A satire for our post-financial crisis world, this raucous tale mercilessly lampoons the wolves of Wall Street, the real housewives of Park Avenue, and anyone else who crosses its path."

The story follows successful Manhattan trader Sherman McCoy who is embroiled in a controversy after a hit-and-run involving a young black man. While at the top of his game, McCoy winds up bringing New York City crashing down around him.

De Kenessey, whose classical music compositions have been performed nationally, said he was immediately drawn to the book's possibilites as an opera. "A bitingly funny, sprawling kaleidoscope of New York in all its glory and all its excesses… Is there anything more inherently operatic than that?" she asks in an online statement. "This brilliant, tour-de-force account of one man’s journey through that wild and corrupt labyrinth of the contemporary world cries out for musical realization. It has everything – pathos, humor, sex, loneliness, belligerence – that an opera composer could possibly want."

Bergmann is a film and stage writer and director whose indie hit "Milk and Honey" garnered a string of awards at international film festivals. The two are also currently collaborating on another unnamed opera. The novel was previously adapted into a comedy-drama film in 1990, starring Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis and Melanie Griffith; which despite its star cast, did not receive critical acclaim.

According to the Times, Wolfe himself was not involved with the opera's writing but has given his consent.

El Museo del Barrios is located at 1230 Fifth Ave. on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. For more information visit bonfiretheopera.com.

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