September 10, 2015 | Opera Philadelphia
Andy: A Popera
Composer:Dan Visconti
Librettist:Heath AllenJohn Jarboe
Act 1
You are sitting in a warehouse in North Philadelphia. There is a door marked EXIT. That’s not the emergency exit. That’s part of the set. You see a box. You open the box, revealing other boxes. From the innermost box a video camera peeks out. It sees you. You see it. It sees you seeing it. This is fun. The person holding the camera inside the box peeks out. This is Andrei. Andrei turns the camera on himself. It sees him seeing it seeing him. This is not fun. This is scary. Andrei retreats back inside the box.

A small woman with a foreign accent enters. This is Julia. Julia is Andrei’s mother. Julia coaxes Andrei out of the box and introduces him to you. You are America. Try not to look intimidating. Andrei gets an idea: he can replicate himself. Then he’ll fit into America better. Andrei creates four other Andreis. They prefer to be called Andy. Andy Warhol.

Replication is fun. What else can they replicate? They look at you. Not you. Not yet. They replicate a soup can, then Marilyn Monroe. This is beautiful. Their eyes turn back to you. They will flatten you into art. Who first? They see Candy. She has so many problems. Perfect. Andys turn her into a superstar. Who else? Valerie, Edie, and Joe. Now there are enough people for a party and you’re invited! This party is fun. Then it’s more fun. Then it’s out of control. No one wants to pay attention to Valerie, so she leaves. Edie suffocates from attention. Valerie comes back with a gun. She shoots Andrei. You leave the theatre. 

You visit the bathroom. You buy a glass of wine. 

Act II
You come back into the theatre and things have changed. Where is Andrei? Wasn’t he the main character? You realize that Andrei is not dead but he’s also not alive. You and the other superstars are in Valerie’s opera now. Her opera is about the ways in which Andy Warhol has appropriated the uniqueness of each superstar for his own brand. It’s a good point, but a bad opera. 

Candy enters. She has a different take on the situation. Being a Warhol elevates you to art, she says. She proves it by performing her perfect death scene, which you help with like you practiced. She transforms into a Warhol icon. You think this is beautiful. The other superstars follow Candy out of the EXIT door and become Warhol icons themselves. The Andys who have been lying catatonic around the room gain strength. They converge on Valerie and force her through the EXIT door. She becomes an icon.

Now things are better. Andrei comes out. It’s just him and the Andys and you. This is fun. Then Julia appears. She notices that Andrei is changing from a boy into a brand. She likes the boy. She tells him the story of where he comes from. It’s too human. It hurts Andrei to hear it. The Andys push Julia out of the EXIT door. That’s better. That’s beautiful!

Now it’s just the Andys and Andrei and you. Everything is beautiful. Except. Andrei doesn’t fit in. He is small and has bad skin. The Andys push him out the door. 

Now it’s just you and the Andys. They look at you. Are you beautiful? Are you art?

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Opera PhiladelphiaAndy: A Popera9/10/2015 - 9/20/2015

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