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FAU Professor Hopes To Reboot Opera Genre With “MelanchoLalaLand”

J. Bargsten


What IS it, anyway?

There are operatic-style singers on stage. There’s definitely a storyline; a futuristic, dystopian vision where corporate grunts peddling anti-melancholia drugs go up against Big Brother. On a screen upstage, film characters seem to interact with the live performers. There are dancers and animation on video. There’s even audience participation of sorts, where a videotaped “focus group” comprised of real people seems to comment on the action and the plot.

“MelanchoLalaland” is the joint creation of FAU Professor Dr. Joey Bargsten and his librettist (and wife) Thea Zimmer.  The two call the work a “transmedia opera.”

Absent from the piece (and its debut venue, a Miami Beach art cinema house), are many of the conventions modern audiences often associate with opera: lavish costumes, stilted acting, bejeweled and tuxedoed theater patrons.

So is “MelanchoLalaland,” the new face of opera?  We ask composer Bargsten.



On why opera needs to be updated.

When we look at contemporary cinema, even what has happened with television in the last few years and on the Internet, all of these areas are exploring character and many different notions of where a plot can go.  It’s time for opera to start catching up with that.

On the plot of “MelanchoLalaLand”

Three people who work in a dystopic corporate setting devise mind-altering experiences; they try to help people overcome sadness.  They find themselves in a power struggle; they’ve been taken over by a power-hungry corporate raider.

His response to purists who might refuse to acknowledge “MelanchoLalaLand” as opera

Opera has many traditions to it. What I’m trying to do is infuse maybe a little more life into it by changing out some of the conventions.  And breaking it out of some preconceived notions that we may have about opera.  And if that makes you uncomfortable, then I’ve probably accomplished my task.



World Premiere:

3:00 PM
Sunday, September 13, 2015

Miami Beach Cinematheque
1130 Washington Avenue
Miami Beach

Tickets are $15 ($13 for seniors and students) and can be purchased by visiting: https://melancholalaland.wordpress.com or calling the Miami Beach Cinematheque Box Office at 305-673-4567  

Years ago, after racking her brains trying to find a fun, engaging, creative night gig to subsidize her acting habit, Chris decided to ride her commercial voiceover experience into the fast-paced world of radio broadcasting. She started out with traffic reporting, moved on to news -- and never looked back. Since then, Chris has worked in newsrooms throughout South Florida, producing stories for radio broadcasts and the web.