LISTSERV mailing list manager LISTSERV 15.5

Help for OPERA-L Archives

OPERA-L Archives

OPERA-L Archives


Next Message | Previous Message
Next in Topic | Previous in Topic
Next by Same Author | Previous by Same Author
Chronologically | Most Recent First
Proportional Font | Monospaced Font


Join or Leave OPERA-L
Reply | Post New Message
Search Archives

Subject: INDEPENDENCE EVE-world premiere by UrbanArias, modern work that touches the everyday soul (6-11-17)
From: Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 13 Jun 2017 10:28:46 -0400

text/plain (57 lines)

Unfortunately the 5-performance run here in Arlington, VA at Signature Theatre by UrbanArias closed Sunday, but this is a work that I can only hope will have a large future life as in today's political and social climate it has something to tech us all.

Music by Sidney Marquez Boquiren
Libretto by Daniel Neer
Directed by Shaun Patrick Tubbs
Conductor-Robert Woods

tenor, Brandon D. Snook
baritone, Jorell Williams

Set by Stephen Kemp
Costumes-Kristina Martin
Lights-Alberto Segarra

The one hour work has three scenes which take us from July 3, 1963 to July 3, 2013, ending with July 3, 2063.
The set is a simple park bench on a raised platform with the orchestra of 5 at the rear and the audience on the other three sides. Astroturf, weeds and bare spots seem so real and a large tree is at the right rear which was so convincing had I not touched it!
There are clothes racks and hangars o each side for the two singers to change clothes between the scenes.
Projections of a ball park and baseball scenes can be faintly seen on the turf as an old radio plays a Giants game on July 3 1963. Mr. Williams plays "Louis, a Negro hotel porter" and Mr. Snook "Sam, a Caucasian policeman," who enters with a bandaged nose.  The music has a lyrical staccato start for their meeting duet as they exchange niceties and every now and then it pauses and the game on the radio returns. We first notice that Louis constantly uses the clearly subservient "yessir," while there is evidently a haughty air from the white policeman. As the niceties go and Sam explains he got his injury in the recent riots, the music becomes tenser and indeed more intense. they chat about baseball, which is one of the common themes in all three scenes, and is clearly what allows them to break the race barrier.  Sam snottily implies Louis is southern and he tells how his family moved north from Georgia when he was 10. He had followed Ty Cobb into a candy store to get his autograph and was thrown out by the owner who bashed his head on the railroad track and he has been deaf in one ear ever since. Sam implies that he was thinking of stealing candy, but of course, that is not the point; these gentleman are 47 and that was 37 years prior!
At this point Mr. Snook has a super agitated aria which oozes with hate and bias and raises his baton about to strike Louis, "You and I don't mix," is how it ends.
As the section ends they go off to two lit squares on either side of the turf.

The second scene has them as 27 year old college buddies who grew up together and are now successful in their fields. Mr. Snook's Joe enters with "Hey Buddy..." as they have their daily lunch. he sings of his success in the ball game the night before and how he scored with a girl who seemed impressed with his playing. Mr. William's Sean seems to almost be in tears, but this goes unnoticed by his friend, until he tells him that he is suing the city. The story unfolds of how he was strip searched publically by three policemen in his apartment lobby and thoroughly embarrassed in front of a crowd of neighbors in what was clearly a racial profiling. I have to admit that while, as a white person, I could never understand what this is like, I do have to say that Mr. Williams retelling was so convincing, I felt as if we in the audience were all there to re-experience the episode. Joe doesn't seem to understand and suggests a shrink and the two men have a duet, "We grew up in a fantasy world..." which is a superb juxtaposition of the two voices as embodied by the two characters.  They part and we are not sure what will happen to their life-long friendship as they too stand in the square lights left and right of the green.

The last scene has the singers as two ten year olds just having finished a Little League game in the future where the country is now run by "the Federation," the polar icecap is now Lake Polaris and save for a nationwide exam that children take at 10 determining what their lifetrack will be, things seem to be pretty rosy. The boys have just met and are waiting for their dads to pick them up after the game. Mr. Williams plays Max (a boy of mixed race, as the program states) whose father works for the Federation and is about to head to a baseball game (only high ups can get tickets and they have a season pass!). Philip (an Anglo-Caucasian boy) whose father we later discover is a janitor, can't afford such luxuries as ballgame tickets. The boys start to chat about the "exam" that Phillip dreads as he is several levels behind Max, who offers to tutor his new friend. As they chat, we discover that it's "not polite to say 'white' anymore," and that being Anglo-Caucasian may be a factor in the exam as well. Phillip explains his mother is deaf and in a heartfelt rendition sings of how she said Grace on Thanksgiving and shocked everyone as she had not spoken in decades. The one line that touched me the most was that Phillips sang of how his mother used to cradle him and hear the vibration of his voice, which was how they related. The naivete of it all was interesting for sure, but we had to ask, was this better and of course, i could not believe the world was so hunky dory 46 years given the way we are running things today! It was a sweet interaction and Max ends up inviting Philip and his dad (not seen) to the game.

There was a talkback with a professor of race relations at Georgetown University as well as the cast and composer and it was interesting to hear how the work had come about and transposed over its workshop into the present form as well as the discussion of social implications.
The music is so well textured to the libretto as well and I just was completely impressed with the work for so many reasons, I can only hope you all get to hear this someday soon!

Alan J. Savada,  Washington, DC

ALAN SAVADA of Washington, DC

OPERA-L on Facebook:
To UNSUBSCRIBE, send a message to [log in to unmask]
containing only the words:  SIGNOFF OPERA-L
To stay subscribed but TURN OFF mail, send a message to
[log in to unmask] containing only the words:  SET OPERA-L NOMAIL
Modify your settings:

Back to: Top of Message | Previous Page | Main OPERA-L Page



CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager