Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Chelsea Opera: Melissa Wimbish is Josephine Baker in "Josephine" on Dec. 1

Josephine Baker (1906-1975)
(Library of Congress)

Melissa Wimbish as Josephine

Photo Credit: Teresa Wood

Chelsea Opera

On Saturday, December 1 at 7:00 pm, Chelsea Opera presents the New York City premieres of Josephine and After Life, two one-act operas by Tom Cipullo. The performance is at Christ & St. Stephen's Church (120 W 69th St., NY, NY). Tickets range from $20-$45 and are available online. Complete details are below and at ChelseaOpera.org.

In Cipullo's monodrama Josephine, the entertainer and activist Josephine Baker grants an interview in her dressing room shortly before her last triumphant appearance. Using Ms. Baker's own words as the libretto, Josephine explores the title character's equally charming and volatile personality as she muses on sex, race, war, and her experiences in pre-war Paris. The NYC premiere features the soprano Melissa Wimbish, whom the Washington Post declared "vocally stunning and theatrically riveting" at the world premiere.

After Life brings Gertrude Stein (mezzo Jennifer Beattie) and Pablo Picasso (baritone Steven Eddy) back from the hereafter to debate their legacies as well as their activities in WWII Paris. Their confrontation is interrupted by the ghost of a Holocaust victim (soprano Sara Paar) who forces them to reconsider the meaning of death. In the words of Tom Cipullo, "the real value of art comes after such horrific moments, helping us, as individuals and as a culture, make sense of the incomprehensible." 

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