In 'ANDY: A Popera' Andy Warhol’s Legacy Lives On
A mash-up of pop music and opera, ANDY: A Popera is a collaborative production of Opera Philadelphia and The Bearded Ladies (a cabaret company) developed over a two-year period. Its edginess and improvisation is a hallmark of cabaret, but it's also imbued with the spirit of opera.
JohnJarboe of The Bearded Ladies directed the production and conceived a libretto that captures the spirit of the iconic pop artist, a gay man born to immigrant parents in Pittsburgh. Heath Allen and Dan Visconti composed the music that adds to this melange of classical opera and cabaret. Allen comes from a more popular music background; Visconti draws from his contemporary classical roots.
Meridee Duddleston: There’s the short, quick way to describe the new show ANDY: A Popera. Try this one by the production's director and writer, John Jarboe.
John Jarboe: It’s a pop opera with 12 opera singers, six cabaret performers, and a five-person band in a warehouse in North Philly with an unlimited bowl of booze. Ingredients unlisted.
MD: Ingredients unlisted? This is adults-only entertainment. But the party punch also reflects the adventuresome spirit of unlikely drinking companions in this co-production of the distinguished Opera Philadelphia and the scrappy cabaret company The Beaded Ladies. But it’s not the pop artist’s life’s story.
JJ: We’re not telling the story of Warhol, then. We’re telling the story of how a boy becomes a brand; how a man becomes a phenomenon; how a little boy named name Andrei Warhola replicates himself into 12 opera singers to become Andy Warhol.
MD: Fifty years ago, the artist obsessed with image and replication elevated consumer goods (Campbell’s soup cans, Brillo boxes; and celebrities, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley) to museum works. He raised questions about popular culture that reverberate today.
JJ: It feels like he’s more alive than dead. When I look at a Facebook wall, when I look at Instagram, when I look at Twitter, I often think about Warhol. I’m amazed at how much I think he would have loved the way we engage with image today. Fifteen minutes of fame is really no longer a joke.
MD: Leave your phone on, but leave the kids at home. Take pictures. Take video. Warhol’s playful, enigmatic, complex essence lives on in ANDY: A Popera - a pop opera that promotes audience participation to whole new level.