Reporting here from the beautiful lakes region in New Hampshire, where I’m happy to be recording “Say it Ain’t So Joe” with Guerilla Opera, a darling company at the vanguard of pioneering opera companies. Not sure what will be more fun, a week in the woods with good company or intensive work on some good music. The show, which became known after the 2009 premiere as the Sarah Palin Opera, uses words drawn nearly entirely from the public record – Joe the Plumber: “So much love in this room, it’s making me horny” – finds good art in the darnedest of places.
I’m privileged to portray Hillary Clinton, whose concession speech is especially moving as an aria. Compare, if you will:
…and that’s me.
The opera ranges from this kind of soaring writing to the percussive, rapid-fire pulse of the 2008 vice-presidential debates, which draw largely from the rhythm and pitch as it was originally spoken in context. It’s wild to listen to and to perform. The CD comes out later this year.
Maybe Palin’s reemergence this week will boost CD sales. It would be one nice thing she could for the arts. Not surprisingly, Palin is not much of an arts patron. But there was a time when Republicans were patricians, when sponsoring the arts and humanities were just part of what a successful leader did. In fact, for all the “culture wars” of the 80s, the NEA budget only grew, peaking in 1992. Bush I had to cut to mollify his tax increases, after 1994 Clinton’s hands were tied, and then Bush II came into office, a harbinger of the new Republican party we have today. Who’d have thought I would be nostalgic for the arts of the 80s! The lighter colored lines below indicate inflation-adjusted spending.