Gowanus Lounge: Serving Brooklyn

Culture Break: “A View from the Bridge”

October 26th, 2008 · 1 Comment

William Bolcom’s opera, “A View from the Bridge” debuted inn 1999 in Chicago was described as “Brooklyn verismo,” something that was emotive enough to bring to mind Puccini. (We are talking out of our asses here more than usual as opera is not something about which know much. Ask us about Arcade Fire.)( In any case, NPR knows and they write:

Bolcom’s distinctively American opera is set among immigrants in New York, and its story easily lives up to Puccini’s description of his own dramatic style, as one that puts “great sorrows in little souls.” The little souls of A View from the Bridge are struggling dock workers and their families, some of whom are in the country illegally. The opera is based on a 1955 play by Arthur Miller, which appeared first as a one-act drama in verse, and then as a full-length, two-act show on Broadway. Miller worked on the opera’s libretto alongside Bolcom’s longtime collaborator, Arnold Weinstein, and they relied on both versions of the play in creating the opera’s text.

The opera’s vibrant setting is the Italian-American neighborhood of Red Hook, in Brooklyn, back in the 1950s. But the issues underlying the story seem both ancient and cut from modern headlines — ranging from the travails of illegal immigrants to ethnic stereotypes to biases surrounding sexual orientation and even the hint of incest.

It’s being performed by the Washington Opera in, well, DC, but sounded like it was worth mentioning. Also there are audio clips, the story coming from NPR, of course.

Tags: Art

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 al oof // Oct 26, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    this is the only opera i’ve ever seen and i thought it was crap. i was pretty excited to go to the opera too, but the story is just so damned antiquated i couldn’t deal with it. which isn’t the fault of whoever wrote the music, but arthur millers. i could be wrong but it really feels like we’re supposed to see the main character as sympathetic and tragic, but the idea of a sympathetic, tragic patriarch whose own stubborness utterly ruins the lives of those people around him is dated, tired, and historically unnecessary. even in 1955 it was bullshit to feel bad for the white (ish) guy who’s wielding his male privilege all over the place because he’s scared of losing that small privilege.

    bullshit. my mom says all miller’s plays are like that, but thankfully i don’t have to see people sing them.