High Line raises opera to a whole new level

Photos by Lincoln Anderson

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | For six nights, from Wed., Oct. 3, to Mon., Oct. 8, the High Line was host to the ambitious “Mile-long Opera: a biography of 7 o’clock.” One thousand performers, wearing black baseball caps that illuminated their faces with a glowing white light, many perched on small boxes, variously spoke and sang a very New York story about a certain table and a collection of photos and a marriage proposal and more. “Funny how love changes everything,” some of the performers sang to the audience, making deep eye contact with them as they passed by, before flipping it around and singing, “Funny how love changes…nothing.” This curious construction was used with other concepts, too, perhaps making passersby question the existential nature of how everything is really nothing and vice versa. It was definitely something to think about for the thousands of operagoers as they streamed along the route from Gansevoort St. to 34th St. — much more than one mile! It certainly was a good hike, as well. While some performers made eye contact, others did not. Some even gave a bow and a smile for those who paused to listen to their full cycle of singing or talking. But ushers gently chided people to keep moving — there were a lot of people up there on the High Line and they didn’t want a traffic jam. At a few spots along the way, performers were inside apartments overlooking the High Line — cleaning the windows. The first one could have been just a coincidence, but by the third one, it was clear it was part of the production. Maybe the table in question — who knows? — was actually in one of those very apartments. Somehow, it all hung together. The free opera was co-created by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang.

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