STAGE TUBE: Behind the Scenes of David T. Little's DOG DAYS Opera

By: Sep. 25, 2012
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Dog Days from Beth Morrison Projects on Vimeo.

On Saturday, September 29, David T. Little's long-awaited debut full-length opera, Dog Days, created in collaboration with librettist Royce Vavrek, and based on the eponymous short story by Judy Budnitz (1998), receives its world premiere, opening a run of five performances: Sep. 29, Oct. 6 at 8:00 PM; Sep. 30, Oct. 7 at 3:00 PM; Oct. 5 at 7:30 PM. The fully-staged production, directed by RoBert Woodruff, premieres at Montclair State University's Alexander Kasser Theater in Montclair, NJ. Watch a behind-the-scenes video with rehearsal footage and interviews with the Dog Days creative team below!

The three-act opera features Little's acclaimed "punk-classical" chamber music group, Newspeak, and a cast of seven: performance artist John Kelly alongside singers James Bobick, Marnie Breckenridge, Cherry Duke, Michael Marcotte, Peter Tantsits, and Lauren Worsham. Alan Pierson conducts.

All tickets are $15 and are available at the Alexander Kasser Theater Box Office, by calling 973-655-5112 or online at Dog Days is produced by Peak Performances @ Montclair State (NJ) in association with Beth Morrison Projects. Dog Days was commissioned by Peak Performances @ Montclair State (NJ). Alexander Kasser Theater is located at 1 Normal Avenue in Montclair, N.J.

Dog Days marks Little's third operatic work, following Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera (2010), commissioned by Dawn Upshaw for the Bard Conservatory, and Soldier Songs (2006).

Based on the 1998 short story by Judy Budnitz, Dog Days investigates the psychology of a working class American family against a not-so-distant-future wartime scenario. It asks: is it madness, delusion, or animal instinct that guides us through severely trying times? Where exactly is the line between animal and human? At what point must we give in to our animal instincts merely to survive? Told predominantly from the perspective of Lisa (Lauren Worsham, soprano), a thirteen-year-old girl, we watch as the world slowly falls apart around her. Her family progressively starves, her mother (Marnie Breckenridge, soprano) gives up on life, and her father, Howard (James Bobick, baritone), struggles to fulfill his own myth of the provider. Her brothers, Pat and Elliot (Peter Tantsits and Michael Marcotte, tenors), get in trouble with the military state, as represented by Soldier/Apparatchik (Cherry Duke, mezzo soprano), turning to misconduct and recreational drug use in a futile attempt to escape the bleakness of their lives. Prince (John Kelly), a man in a dog suit, appears on the family's doorstep begging for food. Is he mad, or the only one who can still see clearly? No one can be sure. David T. Little and Royce Vavrek's surreal adaptation of the story, developed in collaboration with director RoBert Woodruff, infuses elements of modern music-theater and rock to shape its disturbing prediction of the future.

Dog Days is a contemporary opera in three acts - Summer (Scenes 1-5), Fall (Scenes 6-9), and Winter (Scenes 10-11) - with a Prologue, a brief intermission after the first act, and a final Epilogue. Set and video design by Jim Findlay, lighting design by Matt Frey, costume design by Vita Tzykun. Duration: 127 minutes.