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Read my review here:
Posted only a few hours after the performance.
Dear Mr. Marshall,
thank you for what Paul Schick (Real Time Opera Executive Director) refers to as "the review of a lifetime".
While I hope that all of us will have more of this to look forward to in future, I agree with Paul, and so does Harvey, who called me up ten minutes ago to let me know about your "real nice review". The phone lines between California, Ohio and New Hampshire are humming...
Oberlin's students and faculty and everyone else associated with the show are bound to be pretty happy, too. Very classy that you took notice (by name) of the contributions of so many hardworking folks.
You GOT what Dan and Harvey and Oberlin and Real Time Opera were all trying to do, and so far you're among the first to express it. (Thanks to Chip Clark, too, although the simulcast misbehaved itself for him.)
(It doesn't hurt that you also say nice things about ME, naturally... embarrassingly, I'm also hungry for recognition that I wrote the dialogue for the scenes with Dan as well as the lyrics for the two duets I sing with him, a bunch of possums, and a broom. That sorta hasn't been coming up, oh dear and oh well).
I was interested to hear that you thought the ending came off as discouraging. That's a useful observation. I guess two of the scenes involving the edge of the stage got kinda mixed up during the piece, as the Mantra character commits "suicide" early on; at the end she decides not to jump off but instead snuggles her nice husband as they gaze off into a painless hereafter (maybe even what remains of their mortal future).
Next time we perform it*, I'll take a look at that part, since I'd like the ending to more or less reflective of the way we make up with our partners at the end of the day. You know, don't let the sun go down on a quarrel. Fact is, at death I'd like to be able to say, as in Kurt Vonnegut's epitaph: "Everything was beautiful. Nothing hurt".
When it comes down to it, I believe in the brief transcendent flares that make our lives come true and reveal the pure shine of the individual. Genuine, ordinary life has a lot more of this than we give it credit for, which Harvey has something to say about. (Hurrah for sentences ending prepositions with!) For Harvey and Dan, life would be untenable without being able to express themselves; the three of us habitually live in a mildly depressed state, reverting almost instantly to our Eeyore-natures as soon as the gig ends.
Werner Herzog says that art is more and more becoming starved for "enduring images". It's good to keep in mind that art represents the power of the single moment to illuminate our world.
Not that my little jokes belong in the same shiny file folder that those guys
have filled to capacity, but you probably know what I'm getting at.
So, thanks again. We hope to have another shot at performing this live--Harvey says he's into it, and it's also in the works to get the video of this stage production made available for sale in DVD form.
*a piece like yours makes the possibility of this a lot more likely.
Mantra Ben-Ya'akova Plonsey
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