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Zombie Opera

October 10, 2013

At the Zombie Opera” in Fort Worth Weekly is ostensibly a plug for Patrick Soluri’s “Figaro and the Zombie Apocalypse” to premiere this Saturday at Fort Worth Opera. But by noting that “Soluri has written operas performed by New York City Opera” the article is also making a sly pun on the recent bankrupting of NYCO.

See NYTimes: “The Frenzied Last-Act Effort to Save City Opera” By Michael Cooper and Rober Pogrebin. And see letter to the editor “City Opera’s Demise” from Gail Kruvand, concluding:

The general state of affairs at the New York City Opera and its slow demise have been widely reported on and known for several years. However, we continue to believe that New York City can, indeed, support a second major repertory opera company … hope is that one will soon arise.

Arise ye zombie opera, arise! Maybe if we invite it to dinner? I say that because the Fort Worth weekly article also refers to the “ghastly statue” at the end of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Giovanni invites the statue to dinner and it kills him. I suspect, Leporello drank too much and hallucinated that. Actually, I think Don Giovanni is just a narcissistic projection by Leporello when he’s drunk; or perhaps a form of bipolar mania. But Giovanni at his death, refuses to be repent, refuses to ask forgiveness for his humanity, his depravity (a masculine-humanity that refuses societal norms, refuses castration). Leporello witnesses Giovanni’s descent to Hell.

Perhaps for the NYCO story, George Steel is Don Giovanni? And this new Figaro with Zombies is in Texas, so there’s probably an Anna Nicole joke in there somewhere. Like so much this week, these zombies should have died in the 90’s.

Or NYCO might be another Lehman. By which I mean, the first sign of a coming collapse in arts institutions. Money is tight, and we’ll see just how many theater companies (and other non-profits) are too big too fail. Surely NYCO isn’t the only institution that ate too much of their endowment in order to survive during the recession. NYCO had some unique problems but I suspect there are more zombies to come.

Also can’t ignore that opera is sort of a dying art form but it refuses to die. So opera is always zombie opera. New artists continue to innovate in the form but it’s still focused on old classics which creates an aura of a dying form. The classics never die, they just get stale and fade away for a while, only to be rediscovered by excited newcomers who think they’ve found something new and amazing. Do not repent the loss, embrace the glory of the death which brings revitalization; the fat lady is singing for institutional performance arts generally but she’s been singing for two hundred years, and probably two hundred more (the zombie Ring Cycle is an infinite Hegelian knot!).

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