In an innovative new opera, the legendary, eclectic,
and uncompromisingly funky Bang on a Can teams up with cult cartoonist and
this year's MacArthur Award winner Ben Katchor to create The Carbon Copy
Building, a dynamic trip through the gritty side of urban life. The opera
is directed by and Obie-Award winner Bob McGrath. The Carbon Copy Building
will show twice, Friday and Saturday, August 4 and 5, in MASS MoCA's Hunter
Center for the Performing Arts. Both performances are at 8 pm.
With a plot involving a simple package delivery from one building to the
other, this opera explores the very different lives these twins buildings
lead. One building is upscale, while the second building, in the Bent
Spoon District, deteriorates and subdivides into tiny offices housing an
endless list of unlikely businesses - an emergency chewing-gum-removal
service, an eternal flame maintenance company, even a dessert embalmer who
preserves uneaten food as memoirs of special events.
Set by Cult Cartoonist Ben Katchor
Recent MacArthur Award winner Ben Katchor has been an innovator in comics
since he was a teenager. His strips have been syndicated all over the
country, appearing in the Forward, Metropolis Magazine, and dozens of other
newspapers, and have developed an almost cult following. His works include
Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer; The Cardboard Valise; and The Jew of
New York. He has received the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship.
He was the subject of a lengthy profile by Lawrence Wechsler, entitled A
Wanderer in the Perfect City, which appeared in The New Yorker and in 1994
was named Best Cartoonist by New York Magazine. Katchor collaborated with
producer David Isay on a series of radio dramas for NPR.
The four singers play nearly a dozen characters and expertly handle the
difficult task of adding depth to the characters without robbing them of the
comic book ambience. Director McGrath maintains the comic book feel right
down to the voice balloons. For the set Katchor's detailed drawings are
enlarged and layered through slide and video projection techniques.
Bang on a Can Create Eclectic Score
The innovative music composed by Bang on a Can founders and artistic
directors Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe bring irreverence and
wit to Katchor's comic book backdrops. (The musical imagery, for example,
includes a funeral march for uneaten food.) The New York-based Bang on a
Can is dedicated to creating a forum for the most innovative and adventurous
music of our time. Lang calls the music they've written for this opera
eclectic saying, This is opera, but it's definitely not a 400-pound lady
with a big vibratto. It's music for people who live below 14th Street-very
urban, very downtown.
Michael Gordon's background includes underground rock bands in New York and
formal composition studies at Yale. His recent opera Chaos is a fast-paced
science fiction spectacle, which premiered at The Kitchen in New York to
rave reviews and packed houses. Sunshine of Your Love, a commission for the
new Ensemble Modern Orchestra, toured Europe last summer, premiering at the
Edinburgh Festival. Trance, a work for London's Icebreaker Ensemble, has
been performed at Lincoln Center and The Kennedy Center.
Composer David Lang has been commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera, the Boston
Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, the Saint Paul Chamber
Orchestra, the BBC Singers, and the American Composers Orchestra. He is
composer-in-residence at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.
His awards include the Rome Prize, a Kennedy Center/Friedheim Award, the
Reveson Fellowship with the New York Philharmonic, and grants from the
Guggenheim Foundation, the NY Foundation for the Arts, and the National
Endowment for the Arts.
Composer Julia Wolfe has received commissions from the Kronos Quartet, the
American Composers Orchestra, the Koussevitzky Foundation, the Huddersfield
Festival, and the Rotterdam Arts Council. Her work has been performed by
The San Francisco Symphony, Margaret Leng Tan, and Le Nouvel Ensemble
Moderne. Her awards include a Charles Ives Scholarship and an Academy Award
from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, two ASCAP
Foundation grants, a fellowship at Princeton University, residency at the
MacDowell Colony and Djerassi Institute, and a Fulbright fellowship.
Bob McGrath is the Artistic Director of Ridge Theater where he has directed
and staged all productions since the theater's inception. A two-time Obie
winner, McGrath recently staged several productions at the American
Repertory Theater including Susan Sontag's Alice in Bed and Robert Coover's
Charlie in the House of Rue. He is currently developing a play with Ridge
Theater based on Outsider artist Henry Darger by Mac Wellman.
The Carbon Copy Building was produced in association with Ridge Theater.
Tickets Available Now
Tickets to The Carbon Copy Building are $28 for orchestra seating and $22
for mezzanine seating. Tickets are available by calling the MASS MoCA Box
Office at 413.662.2111 or online at www.massmoca.org. Tickets may also be
purchased in person from 10 - 6 daily at MASS MoCA at 87 Marshall St. in
North Adams, Mass.