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Independence Eve: Ears on Baseball

In the United States now, everyone--in one way or another--is concerned with civil rights and racism. June 3, 2017, the Dresser saw UrbanArias, a small opera company producing short contemporary chamber operas, premiere Independence Eve by composer Sidney Marquez Boquiren and librettist Daniel Neer. It is a demanding new opera set in three scenes, all on July 3 but in past, present, and future years--1963, 2013, and 2063.


Scene 1 between two 47-year-old men who do not know each other concerns the issue of housing integration. The black man, who is the chief porter at a four-star hotel, has just moved into the neighborhood the white man, a police officer, has just left unhappily.

Scene 2 between two 27-year-old men who do know each other concerns the issue of profiling black men. The white man expresses sympathy about the black man being mistreated by law enforcement. Just talking about the incident tests their friendship.

Scene 3 between two ten-year-old boys concerns inequality between economic classes. However, the black kid has a father "working for the Federation," which means his family has money and clout. The white kid's family is poor and not connected.

All three scenes are static and just involve the two players and a bench.

All the characters are played by baritone Jorell Williams and Tenor Brandon Snook, who each do an outstanding job of singing and acting.

IndEve-Adelphi-e1430885577471-300x206.jpgThe music is dissonant and features flute and clarinet playing strident tones particularly in the first two scenes. The emotional pitch of the music and libretto in the first two scenes is stressfully high. Scene 3 is mellow and more lyric. The Dresser was impressed by Williams and Snook in their ability to effectively portray young boys. Even their facial expressions were convincingly boyish. The Dresser's favorite aria came from Snook (the poor white kid) as he told the wealthier black kid about his deaf mother.

Conductor Robert Wood professional as always provided strong direction to both the ensemble of musicians (violin, violoncello, clarinet, flute, piano) and the two singers. The Dresser commends UrbanArias for presenting contemporary operas that speak to current day issues.

In David Eye's poem "You Said Listen," two people struggle with a difference that is expressed in a song played on the radio. In Independence Eve, baseball, either broadcast on the radio or a game just completed by the characters is the lingua franca of how two men or boys communicate. The capacity to listen and to translate the information received into understanding is at the heart of Sidney Marquez Boquiren and Daniel Neer's opera. It's that complicated love-hate tug between any two people.


It was one of those songs--
shut us up at the turnoff,
kept us in the truck
that night, our dashboard
eyes on the radio dial--
Could you see it like me....

Now I see you hated it
here in the hills
unnerved by the night
but you never let on
and that --finally--
is a kind of love.

by David Eye
from Seed

"You Said Listen" copyright © 2017 by David Eye


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 5, 2017 12:04 PM.

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