an opera for our time, from good old Wedekind again


I know I'm supposed to call it a musical, but I hate musicals, and so at least for now, I'll call it opera. We were there because we have a subscription. This thing is at the Atlantic Theater (we never, ever miss one of their productions).

"Spring Awakening" is a wonderful new piece of musical theatre, a rich collaboration between Steven Sater, Duncan Sheik, Bill T. Jones, Michael Mayer, a briliant production team and an absolutely superb young cast. It opens, what, tomorrow? Okay, any day now.

I don't know; it may already be sold out, but if you can get a ticket you won't be sorry. Most of us will never be able to spring for the price they'll be charging once it gets to Broadway.

"Awakening" makes the plot of "Rent" look like a bourgeois distraction from the proper agenda of a progressive society, and yet the Benjamin Franklin Wedekind play on which it is based is 115 years old. The villains are the tyranny of the state, family, schools, religion and any authority which represents its establishment as the primary argument for its legitimacy.

Notes: The title of both the original play and the Atlantic's production is a euphemism for puberty, and Wedekind himself was only in his mid-twenties when he wrote it, his first major work. The notorious German playwright was also responsible for the story on which Alban Berg's magnificent, iconoclastic and very sexy opera "Lulu" was based.

The music of this new work is of an entirely different order from that of Berg, but it's dynamite, and that's both an emotional and a considered response from someone with no patience for the conventional banalities of a form which strangely persists in its rejection of real innovation - and life.

[image from the Atlantic Theater]