“Opera likes to simplify and enlarge its characters to make them fit grand themes. Mr. Ashley goes in the opposite direction and arrives at the cosmos just as easily.”— Bernard Holland, The New York Times
eL/Aficionado is the story of a person on trial — on trial for her character and the quality of her answers, on trial for her skills of perception and her intelligence, on trial as a human being. The principal character (the Agent) is being cross-examined by two persons (Interrogators) under the direction of a third person (First Interrogator), who directs the narrative and comments on the Agent’s answers throughout the opera. The Agent is required to recount her actions and explain her behavior in carrying out certain assignments. She does not explain whom she works for, or even why she does what she does, but she is expected to respond without question to some deep obligation or contract with the past.
Although the opera’s mysterious mood owes much to John LeCarré’s world of espionage, it is not a spy story. The four scenes of the narrative are progressively concerned with events of an otherworldly nature while delving into the Agent’s different life stages, from the present time to her earliest memories. Throughout the First Interrogator’s remarks, there are passing references to analysis and to the world of dreams. eL/Aficionado is the trial of a mind or an imagination, of “every person” coming in contact with something foreign — the unknown.
Music and libretto by Robert Ashley
Music direction by Tom Hamilton
Light and stage design by David Moodey
Performed by Kayleigh Butcher (the Agent), Brian McCorkle (First Interrogator), Bonnie Lander (Second Interrogator) and Paul Pinto (Third Interrogator)
Sound design and live mix by Tom Hamilton
Produced by Mimi Johnson/Performing Artservices, Inc.
Recent write up in OPERAWIRE. Click here for full story.
Performing Artservices, Inc. is pleased to present a new production of eL/Aficionado by the late American composer Robert Ashley, to take place at New York Live Arts, May 21-24, 2020. Written in 1987 and last performed in 1995, eL/Aficionado (72 minutes) is an opera scored for four voices and an orchestra of electronic instruments.