Music Theater Now
Music Theater Now
Music theater is often treated as something of a caretaker genre that flourished in the 1960s and ended with opera's alleged return in the 1970s. Just as reports of opera's death were exaggerated, so have been proclamations of its rebirth. Many “operas” composed in the past two decades could be better described by the term “music theater.” Several contemporary works that closely fit the operatic mold have incorporated techniques first explored in experimental music theater. In addition to enriching opera, music theater has continued to diversify into myriad forms of multimedia and performance art and has encouraged the emergence of theatrical elements in concert works. This chapter considers three works completed within a year of one another in the United States and associated with the annual Next Wave festivals at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, a primary venue for new music theater. These are: Njinga the Queen King (1993), written by the African-American playwright lone, with music by Pauline Oliveros; the multimedia music theater video work, The Cave (1993), by Steve Reich and video artist Beryl Koro; and Richard Einhorn's Voices of Light (1994), an opera/oratorio for voices and amplified instrumental ensemble in celebration of Joan of Arc.
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