October 20, 2010

A Quiet Place

The current OUT magazine contains a fascinating article on Leonard Bernstein and his opera A Quiet Place, which is being mounted in a new production at The New York City Opera.

A Quiet Place was premiered at the Houston Grand Opera smack in the middle of Reagan's America ('83), and found something of a 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' reception, seeing that the plot involved a ménage with a gay man, draft dodging, probably suicide, alcoholism, infidelity, a funeral, the miasma of suburbia, and most importantly, a father's relationship with his son.  Not your typical Maria and Tony story.  Produced a few more times, the piece drifted off into the operatic ether until now, that is, our Six-Feet-Under age.

While the subject matter may have been a hard sell, Bernstein's writing is another matter.  The work is searingly beautiful, and full of Bernstein being....well...Bernstein: funny, jazzy, dissonant, cathartic, anguished and elegiac. Having heard it in rehearsal (I am in the production), I agree with George Steel, the general director of NYCO, and Christopher Alden the stage director, that the opera's time is now.  Who loves whom, marries whom, father and sons, sons to sons, and 6 recent suicides of gay young men are smack in the middle of our faces.  More than Bernstein's autobiography,  A Quiet Place is about love.

Go see it if you can.  It won't be around very long. 

You can read the OUT article here.



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