Con Vivo Music and Art House Productions present:
Perfect Lives Jersey City
An opera by Robert Ashley
Arranged and performed by Varispeed with Con Vivo Music
Sponsored By: Remco Press and The Barrow Mansion Development Corporation
11am The Park – All About Downtown Stage (Barrow St and Newark Ave)
1:30pm The Bank – Provident Bank (239 Washington St)
3pm The Supermarket – Key Food (574 Jersey Ave)
5pm The Church – St Paul Lutheran Church (440 Hoboken Ave)
7pm The Backyard – The Historic Jersey City & Harsimus Cemetery (435 Newark Ave)
9pm The Living Room – Barrow Mansion (83 Wayne Street)
11pm The Bar – Brightside Tavern (141 Bright St)
In a small Midwest town, two traveling musicians and two local siblings hatch a plan to take all the money from the Bank to Indiana for one day and then bring it back, thus performing the perfect crime… or a work of art. Originally released as 1980s music videos, Perfect Lives is Robert Ashley’s quirky, lively and philosophical modern opera, adapted anew by Varispeed and narrated by the band and guest musicians live at seven different Jersey City locations throughout one day.
A seamless merger of poetry and sound, the performance of Perfect Lives is divided into seven half-hour episodes. As performers and audience members journey from location to location, participants re-imagine the big city as a folksy town where the bank tellers know the captain of the football team and everyone drinks together at the end of the night. Varispeed’s performance will use spatial intimacy to help animate the story — performances will happen inside homes, parks, and businesses, rather than on stages or behind lecterns.
Ashley, a major figure of post-war American composition, has written almost exclusively is a style of spoken-word opera that he defines as uniquely American. Its seven episodes weave the intersecting stories of the people in the American Midwest, centered around a mysterious crime, an elopement, and the mischief of two itinerant musicians. Ashley uses the everyday expressions of the region to create a poetic mix of the quotidian with the lofty. The text is delivered by a primary narrator, using rhythmically precise speech, and is supplemented by an interjecting backing chorus.
Previous performances of Varispeed’s site-specific Perfect Lives have been presented in New York City in 2011, the Catskills in 2013 and Pittsburgh in 2014.
For more information and documentation on Varispeed’s Perfect Lives and other projects, visit: www.varispeedcollective.com
Photo credit: Courtesy of Mathew Pokoik and Mt. Tremper Arts
This program is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, administered by the Hudson County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, Thomas A. DeGise, County Executive, and the Board of Chosen Freeholders.