A different kind of event took place at the NYU Skirball Center on Monday, March 6: Mark Adamo, composer du jour, demonstrated how he directs singers, with several scenes excerpted from his operas Little Women and Lysistrata.

The fact that a composer has the opportunity to stage his own work is a sign of progress in my book – no more wasted energy in collaborative discussions or arguments, power plays and ego battles… When it comes to opera, the composer should be in control. And Mark Adamo certainly is, grooving back and forth between music, libretto, lyrics and staging, all at his fingertips.

Another aspect of this type of workshop is that through repeated performances of a scene, one obviously comes to a deeper understanding of the work, whereas watching the entire performance for the first time, some of the details can be missed, especially if the music is unfamiliar.

Mark Adamo’s attitude as director is at both confident and humble. He places more emphasis on the emotional subtext than on the physical gestures.

Lysistrata, soon coming up at the NYCO, is unquestionably the ‘in’ event of the season – even the Guggenheim Works in Process preview performance is already sold out.

The only thing I don’t quite get is why is Lysistrata being presented as a love story in the publicity materials. I thought it was a humorous anti-war protest. I mean, love is part of the subtext, as a basic human emotion that is present in most operas, but is the political content of the piece being downplayed or even censored? I wouldn’t be surprised.

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