The Walker Art Center’s two-night run of “The Making of Americans” is one of the most highly anticipated performance events to come along in a while: A mishmash of contemporary opera, avant-garde theater and multimedia installation, this weekend’s world premiere promises plentiful visual as well as aural pleasures.
The chamber opera takes its cue from Gertrude Stein’s 1925 novel, “The Making of Americans,” a plodding examination of the daily lives of three generations of an American family as it progresses from first-generation immigrants and beyond. For those who now fear a long, tedious night at the theater: Know that the source material is windy (Stein’s book is a whopping 925 pages long), but in keeping with today’s Attention Deficit Disorder standards, the chamber opera clocks in at only two hours.
Surely, the most tantalizing thing about the show is its impressive cast of artists and co-creators: Boston-based experimental director and MIT professor Jay Scheib concocts a media-rich environment in which Stein’s renderings of past, present and future can simultaneously unfold.
Brooklyn-based composer Anthony Gatto might be familiar to devout local theatergoers — he composed the haunting score for Open Eye Figure Theatre’s strange and fascinating puppet show, “Elijah’s Wake.” The Walker enlisted the fantastic local sculptor Chris Larson to design the set. (In turn, he constructed a fully functional, life-sized dollhouse.) The orchestra is comprised in part by members of the St. Paul-based new music ensemble Zeitgeist — they’ll play alongside New York City’s JACK string quartet. Best of all, the cast of singers includes local baritone Bradley Greenwald — his remarkably expressive voice gives me goose bumps!