If you tend to doze off at the opera, rest assured this one’ll rouse (and arouse?) you: Sarah Screams’ forthcoming show at Drom will combine opera and burlesque to create what can only be called “Operotica.” As if that’s not enough, the night of arias and areolas will also feature excerpts from a bonkers-sounding “porn opera.”
Ms. Screams (née Sarah Mostov) is a classically trained opera singer with a couple of performances at the Met under her belt. But she says she’s never really connected with the opera community and was frustrated by the high ticket prices and the dated atmosphere of even smaller opera venues. “I wasn’t sure which route I wanted to go and that’s when I was thinking it would be cool to take opera and have it appeal to a more contemporary audience and have my generation say, ‘Hey, this could actually be a cool thing that people could enjoy.’”
Since moving to New York about six years ago, the 27-year-old Jersey girl has brought her brand of “alt opera” to a number of unconventional settings: variety shows at the Slipper Room and in Bushwick, where she lives; dance clubs like Webster Hall; and, last month, a Barney’s window display produced by Baz Luhrmann and his wife Catherine Martin of Moulin Rouge and Great Gatsby fame. But “Operotica” is her passion project.
In 2011, around the time she started doing burlesque, she saw “Classical Tassels,” a show by burlesque, comedy, and opera performer Shelly Watson (of Nutcracker Rouge) that clicked with Screams’ own vision of combining pasties and Puccini. “That was the first time I saw burlesque and opera mixed together,” Screams said. “It was really packed that night and it got me motivated.”
That motivation led to the sold-out trial run of “Operatica” at Drom in September. Among other things, the show featured a contortionist, a theramin player, and a burlesque performer doing a Valkyrie-themed striptease to Wagner. In addition, the audience got a taste of Gordon Beeferman’s The Enchanted Organ. Beeferman is an accomplished
composer whose work has been performed in respectable opera houses. But according to Sarah, his “porn opera” (more of a burlesque opera that sends up the porn industry) hasn’t had any such luck, since Charlotte Jackson’s libretto is rather racy. There’s a Greek chorus of “fluffers,” and during the opera’s casting-couch number its Dirk Diggler-esque hero, aspiring porn star Avery Dick, strips down to reveal a 14-inch golden (prosthetic) penis.
“It’s such a cool opera that it really is a shame for it to get shelved just because it’s too risqué,” Screams said.
At this next installment of “Operotica,” you’ll get to see selections from the work’s newly completed second act, which promises “a Baroque Oratorio in which the Vagina and the Anus vie for the favors of the Penis; a Conception ballet; a march of ex-porn star zombie women; and the ghost of an industry legend long-dead of AIDS.”
If you’re lucky, Screams will also perform her operatic version of Khia’s “My Neck, My Back.” In case she doesn’t, we’ve embedded it at the top of the page.
“Operotica,” Jan. 23 at 7:30pm at Drom, 85 Avenue A, nr. E. 6th St.; tickets $18 in or $22 at the door.