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Opera is the New Black

“Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back and, instead of bleeding, he sings.” ― Robert Benchley

You know you’re living in a weird bubble when everywhere you go every person you talk to seems to be in the midst of writing an opera.  This isn’t conjectural, this is my life currently.  It reached a kind of apotheosis yesterday when, at a meeting at a coffee shop in the West Village, the guy who took my order told me he’s working on an opera too

It’s about a misunderstood barista who has quietly revolutionized the percolation process but who foolishly spouted off about his idea at the regional convention one night after too many Baileys Irish cream coffees in the hotel bar and it was stolen by an unscrupulous middle manager who went on to achieve great success.

I told him I thought it should end with the middle manager being dragged bodily to hell by a chorus of demons like Don Giovanni but I don’t think that’s the direction he’s going to take it. He’s going for a more realist approach it seems. It’s also going to be narrated entirely in flashbacks as the barista tells his tale of woe to his analyst.

It’s a shame because if your opera isn’t going to be about something big like the death of the gods then you should at least have someone get dragged to hell by singing demons.  In fact I would argue that this would enliven many an otherwise dull production though you’d have to change it up a bit of course.   It could be like A Quiet Place. Actually that would work as an opera.  File that away for later.

Anyway, I’m having these conversations about opera everywhere I go because I’m in the midst of writing one myself and the process terrifies me so I keep having lunch/coffee/beers with anyone and everyone I can think of who has more experience writing opera which, as it happens, is everyone.  It’s like when my friend got a ping pong table and it turned out that all of my friends had played avidly as kids and were amazing at ping pong and I was the only one who had never played.  It’s the opera equivalent of that.

And every conversation gets interrupted by someone who starts telling me about the opera they’re writing which takes place at an existentialist cocktail party or something and in which no one actually sings, they just pantomime for four hours and I start to wonder if I’m actually going crazy.

What’s definitely becoming clear to me is that I’ve been overthinking it. Just like Kip Winger did when he wanted to write classical music and he studied and studied and wrote some decent classical music but it was totally devoid of personality.  This isn’t something I ever thought I’d say but I’m not going to make the same mistake as Kip Winger.

Opera is what you say it is and to me it’s a post-apocalyptic science fiction time travel memory loop death spiral. I can’t wait to interrupt someone else’s conversation to tell them all about it.

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