BWW Previews: Milwaukee Opera Theatre's ANTIOLOGY Comes to Boswell Books
Jill Anna Ponasik of the Milwaukee Opera Theatre (MOT) says two things converged to pave the way for Antiology: "First, composer John Glover and librettist Kelley Rourke expressed interest in creating a piece that would explore the issue of catastrophic data loss. Then, while trying to figure out how to help them do that, I asked baritone Andrew Wilkowse what was missing from his life." It's a question Ponasik often tosses out when the MOT begins a new commission. "A hootenanny," Andy answered.
Ponasik took the next logical steps and started preparations to commission a hootenanny about catastrophic data loss. A lightbulb moment sprung from Dana Spiotta's novel Eat the Document, which grapples with information storage, personal identity, and the shift from analog to digital. This was the book the creative team wanted to dig into; Ponasik helped them do just that.
And so Antiology was born! Performing at Boswell Books from October 10th to the 12th, the experience will be part book club, with author Dana Spiotta reading excerpts from her novel, part new opera, with Andy the baritone performing arias adapted from the book, and part - as Ponasik calls it - "anartchist jam band concert, featuring classic songs from the 70s, each of which plays an influential role in the novel."
The musicians include Jack Forbes Wilson on keys, Kat Wodke on guitar and banjolin, Eva Nimmer on guitar, banjolele, and ukulele, Monique Ross on cello, and Joe Riggenbach on mandolin, recorder, flute, and maybe trombone. "In other words," says Ponasik, "we're putting a pile of instruments in the middle of the bookstore and having at it."
This mix of hair-brained schemes and insane creativity are what make the Milwaukee Opera Theatre such a gem in the Milwaukee performing arts community. Leave it to Ponasik and her band of visionaries to host the seeds of a new opera at an east side bookstore, backed by a jubilant jumble of instruments - which will round out the hootenanny portion of the evening, no doubt.
In the slew of vibrant, singular experiences that the MOT has put forth in recent years, Antiology is shaping up to join the ranks of greatness. So bring an open ear, a festive spirit, and maybe even your finger cymbals to Boswell Books this week for the kind of frolicsome good time that only the Milwaukee Opera Theatre can create.