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Thoughts On The Country-Music Opera...


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About The Opera: I don’t have a plot, or characters; one of the folks I told about the idea said if it was a Joe Opera, it had to have dead animals, and I suppose that’s right (Reputation To Protect and all). For all I know, maybe all the characters will be animals—animals are a lot easier to deal with than people. It’s been suggested I adapt something like Bryan Jacques’ “Redfern” series—science-fiction novels whose characters are all animals—but I don’t know as I want to get that cute. Cute anthropomorphic animals have been done to death (sorry) by the Disney people.

It would be tempting—here’s that zeitgeist again—to have the opera be about the economy: the classic Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland routine, perhaps, where we’re out of money, the farm’s being foreclosed on—so “Let’s put on a show!” Twisted, of course: if I were doing it, the humans would be clueless, and the farm animals would put on the show—and somebody (a government agency?) would try to stop them. Unsuccessfully, of course. And because I’m not that into happy endings, the show would end up being a failure (perhaps because only animals come?) and the farm would still get sold and the animals sent to the slaughterhouse. Classic Greek tragedy, where at the end of the play only one actor is left alive—long enough to close the curtains and wish the theatergoers goodnight.

I believe all the dialogue in an opera is sung (unlike a “musical,” where spoken word stitches the musical pieces together), and that’s quite a lot of music to write. One thing I could do to make my job easier would be to have each character sing differently (and consistently): the tempo might change, of course, depending on their being excited, &c., but “their” stuff would always be in the same rhythm and chord progression—the operatic equivalent of having the “Darth Vader Blues” play every time Darth comes on stage (a trick I did use in the first “Pig Wars” puppet show). That would also make the characters, whoever (and whatever) they are, more identifiable to the audience. One can do that with country music. I suppose my actors don’t need to be speaking (or singing) in Italian—but that could be fun, too.

(I shouldn’t think about this so much. I already have a tag line for the “reprise,” that the animals in various groups will sing at various random points during the opera:

“We’re gonna put on a show

And raise a whole lot of dough

And make the evil bankers go away!”)

I got asked twice while I was at the speech tournament (as a judge), “When’s your next gig?” (I’ve been asked that a few more times just in the past few days.) I guess that means I should arrange one, ‘cause I don’t got one. Right now, the next gig is the Christmas benefit concert, though I don’t have a date yet. I haven’t gone around soliciting gigs for myself at the various live music venues, and I should do that, too.

A few more things to do. Time to send off the CD and lyrics for “Dead Things in the Shower” to Goodnight Kiss Music for their contest (I’ll do the DVD entry for “50 Ways to Cure the Depression” online—it’s easier). At that point, my contest-entering for the year will be done. I haven’t won any of the others I entered. A couple more job applications to send off, too. Those are like the song contests, except that I think I have less chance of winning.

Joe

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