It was an adventure
If it’s different, I’m up for it. Strange? Even better. Last night was both.
We went to Machine, A World Premiere Fire Opera (yes, that all seems to be the name) at The Crucible in Oakland. The Crucible is a “non-profit educational collaboration of arts, industry and community” where you can go to learn to be an artist in glass, metal, ceramics, neon, woodworking, fire performance and many other loud, violent artistic endeavors. It’s a big warehouse kind of building on 7th St. in Oakland, near the West Oakland BART station.
The one hour performance starts at 8:30, a fine and decent hour. The very industrial space is transformed with bleacher seating into a theater, but don’t count on heat. It’s cold in there, although there is fire in many places. Even the bar area is lit with a huge flame:
The stage is spectacular, a multi-story structure bursting with activity. There is glass blowing going on, bronze being melted, things being welded, flames shooting from a variety of fixtures both contained and uncontained. A huge wheel on the right is being turned by a man using a crank and a huge johnson bar. The orchestra, if you can so refer to group comprising an accordion, cello, keyboard, xylophone and percussion man, sits on stage as well, incongrously directed by a man in leather pants, tattoos and arm bands gently weilding his baton.
Yes, it’s a real opera. The singers are real life, honest-to-God, trained, profession opera singers. Stars Eugene Brancoveanu and Valentin Osinski, who have performed with opera companies all over the nation, bring their considerable skills to bear, competing madly with the special effects.
As spectacle, it’s great. As opera, not so much. The libretto is not particularly clever–in a dystopian alternate universe, an evil corporation enslaves its workers. One gets free and redeems the world. Pretty much every sci-fi book ever written. The music won’t have Verdi or Mozart feeling jealous, either.
Still, it sure looks good:
Okay, see for your self, here’s a clip:
See the gas/flame explosions? They help keep the room warm–it’s cold in that concrete and steel environment, but the flames bring the temperature up to bearable.
I doubt that anyone will be producing Machine 100 years from now, so you had best see it now. It isn’t great opera, but it is pretty good spectacle, and opening you mind to new experience is always good.