THE CONSTITUTION: A SECULAR ORATORIO Returns for Four Performances
Vertical Player Repertory premiered The Constitution, A Secular Oratorio, by American composer Benjamin Yarmolinsky in June 2019 for two sold-out performances. A setting for chorus and soloists of substantial portions of the United States Constitution, including highlights of Articles 1-7, the Bill of Rights, and subsequent amendments, the premiere of this timely new work will be extended for four more performances in September, in VPR's original staging and with the original cast of 24 singers accompanied by piano.
The U.S. Constitution and the structure of the U.S. government have been much in the forefront of recent news. We invite you to revisit our democracy's rule book in a new way, and reflect on the rights it guarantees. Yarmolinsky, a composer called "wildly eclectic" by The New York Times, specializes in tackling legal texts, for example, the Miranda Rights, the IRS 1040, and the transcripts of the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings set as an opera (Clarence & Anita). In this oratorio, he draws from the history of American and European music, combining jazzy rhythms, blues, folk, gospel, and Handelian flourishes, to give voice to the Constitution's iconic words in a clear, vigorous, unexpectedly humorous, and highly singable style.
OperaWire called The Constitution "one of the most unique and fascinating works in New York" and included it on the national list of "5 Operas to See." Parterre Box praised VPR's "lively, impassioned performances," and "nuanced, vibrant interpretation of the composer's score." We're excited to have the original cast back together for these performances. Join us for an immersion into the words and meaning of our essential social contract, through the vehicle of music and glorious singing.
Producer and co-director Judith Barnes says "Given the disturbing state of affairs in our country, I've been going over and over in my mind the importance of performing this piece right now, of engaging artistically with this crucial document that defines our rights and freedoms as citizens, aspiring citizens, and residents of this country. Singing and embodying these carefully crafted legal phrases at rehearsal has heightened our desire to create a communal listening experience for our audience, to collectively invite these concepts to enter us in the way that only music can. Words set to music linger in the memory-and Ben's music is very catchy. People might walk away from this performance humming an amendment or two! Besides being enjoyable, I hope the experience will spark our resolve to uphold the constitutional ideals of justice, freedom, human dignity, and participation in government, ideals which are in constant need of our awareness and protection."
General Admission $35 / Premium Front Row Seating $60