Opera on Tap: New Brew


Just a quick note to say we stopped by Barbes last night to catch an installment of Opera on Tap’s developmental series New Brew. We were particularly impressed by the work-in–progress The Hat, based on the play by Zsuzsanna Ardo (who also wrote the libretto for the opera), and composed by Karen SiegelThe piece is about the unlikely romance between Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger. That these two great academic minds would come together is no thunderbolt, until we recall the obvious fact that Heidegger collaborated with the Nazis and Arendt was a Jew and the author of the seminal On Totalitarianism. This marvelous tension is more than enough to hang a play on, but last night we also found that Heidegger’s existential and ethical formulations (frequently sloganlike) are marvelous things to hang LYRICS on. Last night’s scene was the perfect one to present as a showcase, with student Arendt approaching professor Heidegger after class and tentatively trying to start a conversation with the star teacher even as he upbraids her for her tardiness. I found the scene endlessly clever and funny, early steps on a journey I imagine will take us eventually to touching, sad and cruel. Siegel’s music seemed on the same page, both intellectually and emotionally, and best of all (a rarity, I find) I could hear and understand the words! At any rate, I look forward to seeing and hearing the whole opera some day, if that should come to pass…

This show was free, by the way, apart from non-mandatory drinks. If you know how to play the angles in New York, you can wind up a very rich person.

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