Beck and Marx's Opera, Review, Premieres at CCO Gala Feb. 19

Classic Arts Features   Beck and Marx's Opera, Review, Premieres at CCO Gala Feb. 19
The Center For Contemporary Opera will debut the new opera Review at its Feb. 19 gala in NY. The short comic piece is by Jeremy Beck and Patricia Marx. A former writer for SNL, Marx discusses the work here.


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?


Featuring REVIEW
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 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 All donations are greatly appreciated.


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