by Chris Davis
If you're looking for something nifty to do Friday night look no further. Last year, prior to the launch of Opera Memphis' new Midtown Opera Festival, OM's General Director Ned Canty announced an ambitious plan to create a new, Memphis-specific work for production in the festival's second year. Tomorrow night the opera-curious can visit Crosstown Arts to take in a free workshop performance of Ghosts of Crosstown, a cycle of 5 short operas inspired by the 1927 Art Deco architecture of the Sears Crosstown Building and by the ordinary lives of the people who worked and shopped there.
The libretti for Ghosts of Crosstown have all been created by Jerre Dye the longtime artistic director and playwright in residence for Voices of the South. Composers include Anthony Davis, Kamran Ince, Nathaniel Stookey, Jack Perla and Zach Redler with Maestro Steven Osgood of the Metropolitan Opera heading up the creative team.
"There is another Memphian involved as well," says Canty. "Kamran Ince, who teaches at U of M."
Ince's piece, "Abandoned," is sung by the Sears building itself, alone at night, pleading with the sun to return. Canty describes the emotional impact of the work as "crushing."
Other works include "Yvonne," a piece set in the 1950's is about a woman whose love of order is upset by a colleague's crisis; "Jack," about a girl who breaks into the building to drink with her friends and "Moving Up in the World," about an African American elevator operator telling his replacement how to cope with the job.