pondering art

I’ve been holding out on you. I’ve failed to mention I’m set-dressing in another Amarillo Opera production.

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Even though the title contains the word opera, it feels like musical theater to me. There’s a storyline with spoken dialogue. Musical numbers are interspersed.

We had our first meeting of cast and ensemble last week.

indexAs usual, Amarillo Opera has brought in some fantastic pros who will sing the principle roles. It’s great fun to watch them apply their craft. They serve to inspire us locals. The talent will not disappoint those who come see the show.

I’ve been wrestling with how to describe this quirky work to you chicken-wingers. First things first. One of the most recognizable jazz standards of all time…..Mack the Knife.…is in Threepenny Opera. The song opens and closes the show.

Guess what? There really is a Suki Tawdry. And she’s in this show!

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THE Suki Tawdry.

And I KNOW her! There’s also Mack the Knife, Lucy Brown, Jenny Diver, Polly Peachum and all the cast of miscreants mentioned in the song.

Threepenny Opera’s plot involves the criminal underbelly of London around 1838…during the time of Queen Victoria’s coronation. Think Oliver! only lots seedier with gang members, crimes and prostitution.

Here’s my best way to describe this 20th century work to you.

Let’s look at two photos, shall we?

hwithglasssesPhoto number one is a yucca plant in bloom.

yucca1We quickly recognize the elements in the photo: the soft blooms, the barbed-wire background, the rough fence post, the grass and sky. These are pretty familiar images to the West Texas eye. Most of us would describe this photo as pretty, or maybe even beautiful.…depending upon one’s perspective. It feels comfortable and we don’t have to expend much effort to understand the picture or to interpret the elements contained within it.

Is the photo art?

What do you think of photo number two?

yucca2I hear you….it is the same photo. It might be a little harder to recognize the blooming plant as a yucca. Is that a fencepost? Is the barbed-wire still there? Why is the sky funky-colored with the crazy texture? Is that really the sky?? Hard to tell. Even though this photo has the same elements as the first one, it feels more ominous, shady, and perhaps even confusing to some of us. Confounding, perhaps?

Is the photo art?

Threepenny Opera feels like the second photo. I like it and I’m understanding it more every day, but it’s definitely the second photo for me.

My favorite line from the Opera is spoken by Mack after a particularly dramatic song by his love (one of MANY!), Polly. After her song, the uncouth gang members are offering comments on what they think of Polly’s song. Mack exclaims, “It’s ART, and art isn’t NICE!’

‘Bout sums it up for me.

I’ll show you some bits and pieces as we work toward opening night, April 5th.

‘Oh, the shark has pretty teeth, dear’-love to all.

 

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