Tabloid TV turned into “celestial” opera? The January 31 New York Times review of “Jerry Springer: The Opera,” makes me wish I’d caught the brief Carniegie Hall run of this London-born opera.
“Now ”celestial” might seem an ill-chosen adjective for a work devoted to the raw and nasty public doings of a throng of aspiring celebrities with dirty little secrets expressed in dirty little words. But this remarkable work…uncovers something grand within the small, squalid lives it portrays… from the moment the chorus files on, caroling in sweet harmony and sour language about the television host who fills their lives with wonder and excitement, you intuit that there’s much more than easy satire afoot. If there weren’t, the basic joke of combining sacred music and profane content would endure for only the length of a cabaret comedy sketch…That Jerry Springer, directed here by Jason Moore, only occasionally loses traction during its two-and-a-half-hour length is because it hears genuine beauty in the hunger for glory of the attention-starved souls it portrays. If the real ”Jerry Springer Show” turns its rowdy, angry guests into objects of sneering sport, ”Jerry Springer: The Opera” sees them as figures of passion, whose impulses, however base, translate into song that reaches for the stars. Laugh, if you will, with smug urbane knowingness. But the soulfulness in the music — performed by a cast that mixes Broadway sheen with classical heft — rises again and again to rebuke you…what is truly shocking about ”Jerry Springer: The Opera [is]an all-embracing empathy that finds the sublime in the squalid and vice versa…When Laura Shoop, dressed as an infant who wants to be spanked, and Katrina Rose Dideriksen, the aspiring pole dancer, step into the spotlight to sing about their dreams of being noticed, a lustrous, heartbreaking purity enfolds them. When Mr. Grooms, in his first-act role as a triple-timing fiance, announces in a heldentenor, ”I’m seeing someone else,” it’s with the exhilaration of someone who suddenly sees high drama in his confusing, tangled life because it’s framed and magnified by television. … The only leading character who doesn’t sing, Mr. Keitel’s Jerry Springer undergoes a transformation not unlike our own. He learns to hear the music in people he has treated with exploitative contempt.” –Ben Brantley
New York Times, January 31, 2008 Thursday Late Edition
And Blessed Are the Singing, Pole-Dancing Fetishists
Section E; Column 0; The Arts/Cultural Desk; Pg. 1