New Milli Vanilli Opera Isn’t What You Think (Thank Goodness)

Left to right: Morvan, former National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences chairman C. Michael Greene, and Pilatus. Photo by Alan Light

Left to right: Morvan, former National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Chairman C. Michael Greene, and Pilatus. Photo by Alan Light

I was concerned for the future of culture as we know it when I read the following New York Times Arts Beat blog headline: “Girl You Know It’s True! An Opera Inspired by Milli Vanilli is Set for Brooklyn Run.”

Milli Vanilli, some of you might unfortunately remember, was a lame pop-music duo whose shameless members, Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus, lip-synced their way to fame and disgrace in the late 1980s.

Fortunately — for my sanity and for the future of culture as we know it — theater director David Levine, composer Joe Diebes, and librettist Christian Hawkey are into irony.

The New York Times’ Allan Kozinn explains in his Arts Beat blog post that Diebes “has deconstructed Wagner’s Meistersinger Prelude … to create a database that includes a digital image of every bar of every instrumental line. During the performance, Mr. Diebes will choose and send these images to the performers, who will read them on computer monitors in real time.”

In other words, the performers will have to sight-read the music as it’s being arranged, unlike Messrs. Morvan and Pilatus, who didn’t perform — let alone sight-read — anything at all.

The opera, which is titled Wow (perhaps a Milli Vanilli reference that’s lost on me), will receive its premiere later this month at BRIC House, a newly opened performance venue in Brooklyn whose name offers a playful nod to a 1977 funk tune by the Commodores, who, unlike Messrs. Morvan and Pilatus, performed their own music

— David Brensilver

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