Early last evening, C.C. hit a little cocktail party/press conference at the W hotel in Union Square for the second Manchester Festival, an original-work biennial festival taking place in the jolly old town of Manchester UK.
This year’s festival, taking place over two weeks in July, features a pretty serious 17-day performance art attack on the Whitworth gallery, led by the “grandmother” of performance art, Marina Abramovic.
Abramovic will conduct one-hour training sessions for the audience, who will have to sign contracts to stay for all five hours of any performance they select. Says Abramovic, “Life is going faster and faster, so art should be getting longer.” Not everyone is likely to sympathize, but for work that is largely about endurance, it makes sense.
Also notable will be the first time ever that Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson have shared a stage [update: in the UK] , in a performance of old and new works.
But the big cahuna here, is the premiere of the new opera that The Met’s otherwise business-savvy director, Peter Gelb, let get away. That would be Rufus Wainwright’s “Prima Donna,” an unabashedly romantic work about the attempt by an aging opera diva to revive her career.
Personally, I just wanted to hear what this would sound like. And while it’s pretty near impossible to judge an entire opera by it’s overture alone–much less a small excerpt from a crappy recording made during a rehearsal–it’s safe to say that the music is rich, romantic, French, and pretty, but didn’t seem nearly as beautiful or daring (even lazily daring) as some of Rufus’ song work (can I call you Rufus?).
Here’s hoping that our favorite forlorn French/Canadian troubadour isn’t falling prey to that nagging impulse to write what he thinks opera should sound like; in other words, a cliche of opera.
Rufus wasn’t shy about hoping the work would one day reach the stage of The Met. If the opera is a success, and The Met, as Rufus predicts, “will be sad,” I have a feeling Peter Gelb will once again have yet another “Prima Donna” to manage.
Oh, and they’ll probably do the opera.