Wednesday, 06 November 2013 16:52

Cangue League Changes Everything You Know About Opera

Written by  Madeline McMahon
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Marionettes used in the opera Marionettes used in the opera

The Death of Schopenhauer
Dog Story Theater, Grand Rapids
Nov. 14-16, 8 p.m.
$10
dogstorytheater.com, (616) 894-1252

Push back all of the stereotypical operas and focus in on what an opera is not. Instead of singers bellowing out pitches from A flats to G sharps, Cangue League throws those stereotypes out with its performance, The Death of Schopenhauer.

According to the opera's writer, Gary Perrine, each scene varies in this production. One scene could be an animation, with the next having live actors.

"It's gong to be interesting," Perrine said.

Cangue League is an avant-garde performance troupe, with The Death of Schopenhauer being the troupe's first attempt at an opera. The performers vary in their art forms, with musicians, actors, poets and more participating.

"Avant-garde is to do something in an unconventional way," Perrine said. "[The show] is something that the audience has to experience."

The focus is on Arthur Schopenhauer, a philosopher whose main belief is that the universe appears to be a fundamentally irrational place.

"[The opera is] about an artist that is gradually and slowly being manipulated and his art is being co-opted by the powers that control money in the art world," Perrine said. "He is a writer for an industry that is not a solo event."

Schopenhauer, who understood instinctual forces as irrational, passed away in 1860 and in the opera, Joshua Burge will be mimicking the philosopher's ideas. In his portrayal, Burge goes from someone who has complete control over his writing to being windswept of his ego trip.

"It does take two angles," Perrine said. "...it is clever, and within the sad and depressing storying, there will be humor."

In addition to the various media used, the opera will also have oversized marionettes that will be popping up in scenes, as well as hand puppets. The marinates are made out of recycled goods, also known as found items.

"They will be a test for us because they are much larger than regular ones," Perrine said.

There will also be other contraptions such as old fax machines and televisions that will be used as props in the opera.

"The actors who are partaking are excited," Perrine said. "The audience will have an entertaining night, and it will be...What is a synonym for awesome?"

The performance is held at Dog Story Theater, where the setting of the opera will be in close proximity to the audience. So, if you do go, plan on being close to fellow community members. Also, know that audience members will be involved in some way or another in the opera.

According to Perrine, "there is no pressure and no reason to be nervous."

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