When Hydrogen Jukebox was presented by the Eastman Opera Theatre in November 2015, the Rochester City News said it was “more like a stream of surreal and illusory fragments than anything approaching traditional opera.”
At 2:30 p.m. Monday in McKnight Hall, the Chautauqua Opera Company will hold its fourth and final open rehearsal of the Philip Glass and Allen Ginsberg collaboration prior to the opera’s Chautauqua premiere on July 27.
Chautauqua Opera continues to invite community members inside the production of Hydrogen Jukebox, an opera that is unique, complex and, if given the time, deeply rewarding. The combination of Glass’ orchestration and Ginsberg’s poetry produced what Cara Consilvio calls a gift to this generation.
“The way Ginsberg used words to resist, they can be used to resist in the same way today,” said Consilvio, Hydrogen Jukebox’s stage director.
With a title borrowed from Ginsberg’s seminal poem “Howl,” Hydrogen Jukebox is an operatic portrait of America from the 1950s through the 1980s. But with the subject matter it covers — war, sex, drugs, philosophy, the environment — it remains poignant.
According to Consilvio, Glass has referred to the late Ginsberg as an immortal who writes not only for the time he was in, but also for the time before and after.
“What I’ve been surprised by is that some of the poetry could have been written today,” Consilvio said. “It’s so timely.”