B ecause you're so close you have no choice but to feel a part of it... It’s really visceral!”A ttended the 10th anniversary celebration performance of Gotham Chamber Opera last night, at Le Poisson Rouge. Founded in 2000 by Neal Goren, Gotham Chamber Opera is dedicated to producing rarely-performed chamber operas from the Baroque era to the present (including Piazzolla’s 1968 tango opera, Sutermeister’s 1935 ‘Die schwarze Spinne’, Britten’s 1947 ‘Albert Herring’, Haydn’s 1779 ‘L’isola disabitata’, and Handel’s 1733 ‘Arianna in Creta’). As last night’s performance demonstrated, GCO is also dedicated to new music combined with a hefty dose of comedy. Their concert included the première of a new work by Gabriel Kahane, ‘You left me, Sweet, two legacies’, a setting of the Emily Dickinson poem with that first line, performed by soprano Jennifer Check and pianist Neal Goren.
A lso on the program were Opera Company of Philadelphia composer-in-residence Lembit Beecher’s dark, poignant and beautiful ‘Heart Rhythms’ 2008 trio for bass clarinet (Amy Zoloto), violin (Nurit Pacht), and cello (Sophie Shao); Mozart’s ‘Quercia annosa su l’erte pendici’, aria No. 7 from ‘Il sogno di Scipione’, K. 126; Ravel’s ‘Chansons Madécasses’; George Lam’s and Benjamin Rogers’s ‘Variations’; Purcell’s ‘Sound the Trumpet’ 1694 aria/ode celebrating the birthday of King James II [Maeve Höglund, soprano; Gennard Lobardozzi, tenor; Keun-A Lee, harpsichord; Sophie Shao, cello]; Richard Strauss’s ‘Wie schön is doch die musik’ [Benjamin LeClair, bass] and ‘Marie Theres! Hav’ mir’s gelobt’ from ‘Die Rosenkavalier’ [with Eve Gigliotti, mezzo-soprano]; and ‘Les vents furieux’ from Rameau’s 1745 hit ‘La Princess de Navarre’. Gabriel Kahane and ensemble Miracles of Modern Science (MoMS) [Evan Younger, vocals/double-bass; Josh Hirshfeld, vocals/mandolin; Kieran Ledwidge, vocals/violin; Geoff McDonald, vocals/cello; Tyler Pines, vocals/drums] contributed comic and atmospheric pieces as well.
O ne of the works, George Lam’s and Benjamin Rogers’s ‘Variations On’, incorporated fragments of ambient/overheard conversations in public spaces combined with satirical quotes from recent pharmaceutical advertisement voiceovers. The latter were sometimes edited or transformed slightly (as, for example, with the one in the title of this blogpost, for Forest Laboratories’ Lexapro® escitalopram SSRI antidepressant), which makes the quoted material function as commentary on contemporary society—in a manner that is only incrementally more disturbing than the original ad.
T he audience in the sold-out LPR club loved the whole evening. Bravo! Happy GCO 10th anniversary! Many happy returns!
- Gotham Chamber Opera
- Le Poisson Rouge
- Neal Goren page at Pinnacle Arts
- Neal Goren page at Mannes College (New School)
- Miracles of Modern Science (MoMS) website
- Elliott C. White Coat, Black Hat: Adventures on the Dark Side of Medicine. Beacon, 2010.
- Milzoff R. GCO sets a sexy example for the City’s scene. Vulture, 13-FEB-2009.
- Oppenheim K. A night of chamber opera. The Economist, 12-AUG-2008.
- Yohalem J. GCO: Il Mondo della Luna. Opera Today, 22-JAN-2010.