When Opera Meets Cabaret
Michelle Jasso used to perform opera in the traditional, grand way, but then, she says, "I got bored." The way performers simply stand and sing, or as she puts it, "park 'n bark," neglecting movement and acting, makes the stories of operas "a little unbelievable." Today, "bringing opera to a broader audience is pretty much my goal in life," she says, and as part of that, she's directing her first Goat Hall Productions show, Anywhere But Here -- Strange Bedfellows: Mozart, Weill, and Menotti.
The cabaret opera company, which was founded in 1997, has offered Jasso the chance to cast against type (so that a soprano need not be an ingénue) and add acting, choreography (by Brittany Blankenship), or, as Jasso puts it, "armography," and some spoken text, which was written by the ensemble. The program includes pieces from The Magic Flute, The Threepenny Opera, and The Medium, as well as other lesser-known works, which Jasso, in further defiance of tradition, "chops up and merges" into a mash-up. Though the three composers "could not be any more different in terms of style," Jasso says, the pieces she's selected have a unifying theme: the desire to escape, "to find a new world, an alternate reality, a nirvana." She expects the combination of works to be "polarizing," but also to give the Bay Area opera world a healthy shake-up.
Anywhere But Here -- Strange Bedfellows: Mozart, Weill, and Menotti starts at 8 p.m. (and runs Apr. 20-21) at the SF Community Music Center, 544 Capp St., S.F. Admis-sion is $10-$15; visit goathall.org.