#3081: “What's Opera, (Doc)?”

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If the central idea of opera is people singing, then why are these pieces still called operas?  We’ll hear music from Laurie Anderson ’s “United States,” Robert Ashley’s “Perfect Lives,” and Philip Glass’s “Einstein On The Beach.”

Unveiled in 1976, “Einstein” is an opera in name, although not in the traditional form.  The amplified ensemble and small chorus singing a text comprised of numbers broke most of opera’s rules about singers, plots, intermissions, when and how to employ dancers.  Post-Einstein, that form has been expanded in any number of ways, especially in Laurie Anderson’s “United States” a “talking opera” from the early 1980's, maybe better described as a multimedia narrative work.  We’ll also hear from Robert Ashley's vast “American” video opera, “Perfect Lives.”  (As a really neat aside, Laurie Anderson is queen of the 2010 Mermaid Parade.)

PROGRAM # 3081, What’s Opera, Doc? (First aired on 5/27/2010)





Philip Glass

Einstein on the Beach

Act I, excerpt [16:00]

Nonesuch 79323

Philip Glass

Einstein on the Beach

Knee Play V [5:29]

Sony/CBS Masterworks M4K 38875
This recording out of print, but download from Amazon.com

Robert Ashley

Perfect Lives/Private Parts

"The Backyard" {23:00}

Lovely Music #1001

Laurie Anderson

United States Live, Disc 2

Let X=X [6:16] From the Air [2:46]

Nonesuch 25192