Notes on MonoDramas At The New York City Opera

by Paddy Johnson on April 5, 2011 · 3 comments Opinion

"Neither", Music by Morton Feldman. Text by Samuel Beckett. Performed by Cyndia Sieden

The New York City Opera is a blast. Following my recent discussion of The Martha Graham Dance Company at Lincoln Center, I attended Monodramas, a series of three monodramas composed by well known composers, Morton Feldman, Arnold Schoenberg and John Zorn (through April 8th). The set design, the music, and at least two of the performances were near perfect pitch. As with the previous post on Martha Graham, I offer only my notes.  I am not an expert on Opera, but I do have a lot to say about how the show looked and functioned. Notes follow in the order the performances occurred.

"La Machine De L'Etre" Music by John Zorn. Performed by Anu Komsi

The documentation above for “La Machine De L’Etre” is a little too dark to reveal the weight of the mass of cloaked figures on stage, which is a real shame. There was a real beauty in seeing all these figures together. Also, early on in the performance one man was disrobed to reveal a bright red suit. It was stunning. Cables where attached to his body and was lifted high above the cast below. This was used to great effect, but I’m starting to wonder whether floating figures are a common trope in opera. They have appeared in nearly every performance I’ve viewed recently, and while I enjoy it, it also strikes me as easy.


Olen Holm April 6, 2011 at 12:49 am

You said “Duchamp in a dancehall.” nyuk nyuk nyuk

kara April 8, 2011 at 5:14 pm

I think this series is more or less failed. Personally, I love Feldman and his opera set was pretty nice so it was good. But the other two was disappointed ,literally. Specially, though I do love John zorn, his opera was not good!!! at all.

lilwonder April 12, 2011 at 1:39 am

just so you all know–opera singers are never mic’d. that is their voice, and their voice only.

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