time for our own opera


Wonderful, wonderful theater. Music theater. Opera. Whatever.

No, it's not a "musical". If it were, I would not have been in the audience tonight. It's pure art, especially if art must be both human and accessible to be truly pure.

But don't be afraid. If it's opera, it's what Puccini was for his audience a hundred years ago, not what Puccini represents today.

But it's only here one more evening - this time around.

David Rodwin's "Virtual Motion" can be seen tomorrow, Saturday, at LaMaMa for the last time. Sad enough that the entire run was only three days, sadder still that we didn't see it until tonight and can only write about it now.

I have no idea how Rodwin's art had escaped us until recently, especially since it relates to and is as exciting as the best work of some of our favorite modern theatrical composers, like Robert Ashley, Conrad Cummings, John Moran, and Mikel Rouse.

Rodwin created the music, the book, lyrics and the choreography, and produces, engineered and performs the piece solo. While he has created larger-scale work in the past, including one opera with a cast and crew of thirty, ". . . I knew I needed a simpler, more economical piece if I wanted my work to be seen by a larger, more diverse audience in more places." He's not competing with the Met, since its line of business is essentially that of a well-endowed museum of antiquities. "Virtual Motion" has already delighted people in over a dozen cities, and only some of those would ever be found in a traditional opera house.

In this latest piece the artist is an extraordinarily charismatic and beguiling presence on an almost totally bare stage, both bearing and born on gorgeous waves of live and recorded sounds combined. The music is totally integrated with the theatre in a shared contemporary humanity.

Well damn, the tickets are only $20, and it's only an hour and a half long, with intermission. Don't miss it. Years from now everyone will be talking about the birth at the turn of the century of this "new opera" form, but you shouldn't wait that long to find out what it's all about. Details:

La MaMa E.T.C.
The Annex
74 A East 4th Street
New York, NY 10003
Tickets: 212-352-3101

Tip: There's both audio and visual stuff on his website!

[image from jadelake]