Just when you thought pop culture opera (popera?) couldn’t get any crazier following 2013’s Anna Nicole, composer Joe Diebes has come forth to prove us all very wrong. Starting on January 23, Diebes and a team of creatives will stage a multimedia Milli Vanilli-inspired opera, WOW, at the BRIC House in Fort Greene. According to a Times‘ interview with Diebes, the inspiration for the show came from an interest in ” the machinery that surrounded and ultimately destroyed them, and what that can tell us about our contemporary digital situation.”
For those of you born after 1990 or who never watched VH1’s I Love The 90s or Behind The Music, Milli Vanilli was an R&B group formed in 1988 by “Faustian” German producer Frank Farian, with European model/singers Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus as leads. Their debut album, Girl You Know It’s True, earned them international success and a Grammy award, but shortly after the win it was revealed that the pair hadn’t provided vocals for a single song on the album and subsequently lip-synced all their live performances.
Along with poet Christian Hawkey and director David Levine, Diebes has dismantled German composer Richard Wagner’s “Meistersinger” Prelude to tell the “tragically operatic” story of Morvan and the late Pilatus. While the libretto, or text, of the opera will remain the same, each performance’s score will differ from the last. Diebes and Hawkey plan on putting their orchestra and singers to the test, making them sightread real-time sheet music each night of the opera’s six-show run . Video projections of Milli Vanilli’s music videos, interviews, commercials and press conferences will appear throughout the BRIC House in hopes that the audience will see the duo as victims of the “exploited labor and racism…at the heart of manufactured fame.”
WOW will run through February 1 with all shows starting at 8pm. Tickets are available online.
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