Toni Morrison adds dimension to her C.V.
September 1, 2004 2:15 PM   Subscribe

The inauguration of September heralds the opening of the current opera season within the United States. Predictable mainstays of standard repertoire will return, but a few notable performances will make their debut this season. One of the new performances that has been already generating excitement is Margaret Garner, to be hosted by Detroit’s Michigan Opera Theater in May. With the libretto composed by Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, the opera is a musical extrapolation of her 1987 novel Beloved. Margaret Garner is the autobiographical account of a Kentucky slave who journeys to Ohio with her family to live in freedom. However, the Garner family is intercepted during their pilgrimage by slave traders who threaten capture, and rather than have her daughter live in bondage, Margaret murders her. Top mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves stars as the lead, and it will be directed by Kenny Leon, last seen conducting P. Diddy in Broadway's Raisin in the Sun.
posted by naxosaxur (13 comments total)
great post!
posted by zpousman at 2:55 PM on September 1, 2004

I was going to ask why they'd selected Danielpour instead of an experienced opera composer for the commission, but Google tells me that he recently worked on another project with Morrison, and my guess is that he was her pick.

Sigh. Well, it would have been interesting to hear what Tony Davis would have done with the material. For my money, Davis is the best opera composer working in the US today.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:18 PM on September 1, 2004

Not so fast naxosaxur! The Santa Fe Opera 2004 season was July 2 through August 28th and we haven't succeeded from the Union... yet.
posted by jabo at 3:31 PM on September 1, 2004

First link, Anna Netrebko: HOT

Also, great link. I'd like to get totally into Opera this season and I'm probably going to spend a good deal of money doing it. Unfortunately, I'm only going to be able to see shows from Boston north. Fortunately, Boston is pretty good. I'll even be patronizing my local theatre in Concord, New Hampshire! Viva Opera!
posted by crazy finger at 3:42 PM on September 1, 2004

A) There's a New Mexico, now? What was wrong with the old one?

B) The Santa Fe Opera season is either the "first of the 2004-5 season" or the "last of the 2003-4 season".

C) crazy finger, don't forget the Opera Boston season. They're cool.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:45 PM on September 1, 2004

Yes Virginia (and Sidhedevil), there is a New Mexico Opera company. I hear it's actually pretty good.

THanks, Naxosaxur. I wouldn't have known there was something so worth getting excited for.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 5:44 PM on September 1, 2004

Whatever you do, don't see Dead Man Walking. Worst opera I've ever seen. Supposedly an incredibly powerful book, it probably would have made a great play. But the songs, the prose, the everything...GAH!
posted by BlueTrain at 7:03 PM on September 1, 2004

What I know about modern opera:

1) The Death of Klinghoffer was very controversial.

2) Julie Taymor did this amazing version of Oedipus Rex.

I have now officially contributed something, in some small way, to a discussion of opera. My journey is complete.
posted by solistrato at 7:09 PM on September 1, 2004

solistrato, here is something else you need to know about modern opera: not one note of it is worth hearing or seeing. The most excellent works of the last 20th Century and early 21st are excellent solely by virtue of not being utterly annoying. The best of them even rise to the level of camp ("Little Women," "Ghosts of Versailles"). "Baby Doe" is nice, but only because everything other opera attempted in its era was such a huge, dour disappointment. (Everything good about "Porgy and Bess" has to do with its being written by a first-rate popular tunesmith, and nothing about its opera-ness.) I would rather listen to Andrew Lloyd Weber than John Adams -- and I loathe Weber the way most Me-fiers hate George W. Bush. Weber, at least, actually seems to entertain some segment of the audience -- which is better than not entertaining anybody -- and still calling yourself a composer. I can't for the life of me figure out why some ambitious young composer hasn't noticed that the culture has this yawning niche is wide open, and that the first person of this generation to come along who can write an opera with balls, gravity -- and GREAT TUNES, will be rich and immortal. Up until then, I'm not going to jump up and down in wild anticipation of a opera based on the work of Toni Morrison.
posted by Faze at 9:03 PM on September 1, 2004

Faze, I totally agree. I'm not one for modern opera, but Morrison's newest attempt will hopefully merit the development of contemporary collaborations. Nixon in China? 'Don't think so...
posted by naxosaxur at 9:21 PM on September 1, 2004

Thank you for this awesome post naxosaur. Anything to do with opera will always find a happy audience in this part of the room. Cheers.
posted by jokeefe at 9:44 PM on September 1, 2004

Based on what I've read about it, you couldn't drag me to see Margaret Garner. However, in the spirit of being helpful, I'll point you to this recent update about it in one of our local newspapers.
posted by pmurray63 at 10:58 PM on September 1, 2004

*cough* I meant naxosaxur. Been thinking about dinosaurs too much, it appears.
posted by jokeefe at 1:34 AM on September 2, 2004

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