Thursday, September 4, 2008

New Operas on the US West Coast

"The Fly" is about to open in LA and there is a great deal of press being generated for its debut. Thomas Rogers from The Salon talks to Howard Shore about a variety of topics (mostly just to plug the opera, but comes up with some interesting comments).

Shore talks about how "The Fly" is revitalizing opera. He doesn't feel he is alone in this revitalization citing the broadcasts by the Met and other new operas being produced. He also feels the music needs to be brought into a modern era. However, at one point he feels it will always be there and then says there is a need to keep it alive, but then, such discrepancies happen with live interviews.

There are also comments (in the interview) about character and the importance for the composer to really understand the characters in order to generate a full evening of music. Speaking about the music, Shore talks about wanting to keep the story set in the 1950's utilizing music from the era, with influences from Africa and the Caribbean.

Listen to the whole interview here.


Another opera is looking to premiere in San Francisco, the "Bonesetter's Daughter". Amy Tan's converted her semi-autobiographical novel into a libretto working with composer Stewart Wallace who is incorporating Chinese style music, blending Eastern and Western styles much like the story incorporates Eastern and Western thoughts.

I've not read "Bonesetter's Daughter" or any of Ms Tan's books, but she certainly has achieved popularity with novels like "The Joy Luck Club" (which she helped convert to film), a character examination of what it is to be born in America to Chinese parents. A big part of the story for her is the characters of LuLing and her daughter Ruth, not strictly autobiographical, but certainly drawing on her own experiences.

Chen Shi-Zheng who directs this production, also directed "Monkey: Journey to the West" so I suspect we'll see more blends of East and West in the opera world in the future.

More on San Francisco Opera's production here.

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