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Arlington Group Turns Presidential Politics into an ‘Absurd’ Opera

The Arlington-based contemporary opera company UrbanArias will be performing a new opera just in time for election season to start heating up.

“Photo-Op” is an hour-long opera that tells the story of a presidential candidate and his wife who “approach a political campaign with naiveté and ambition and come to realize that the campaign is a crucible from which they emerge fundamentally changed; their relationship is no longer a love match but a political alliance.”

The end result is a performance that’s about “the absurdity of modern presidential politics.” From a media release:

All of the obligatory campaign events are included: stump speeches, rope lines, debates, sound bites, and, of course, photo-ops — but James Siena’s text reduces them to the absurd, taking familiar “politician-speak” and turning it on its head. Photo-Op’s music is by Conrad Cummings, composer of UrbanArias’ April hit Positions 1956. Cummings’ minimalist-influenced score is hard-hitting but harmonious. UrbanArias’ new production, directed by Alan Paul of The Shakespeare Theatre, is a DC-area premiere. Photo-Op is also the second collaboration between UrbanArias and Bowen McCauley Dance. Lucy Bowen McCauley serves as choreographer, helping to provide an artistically complex and engaging production. Soprano Laurie Williamson (Ragtime and King David) and baritone Michael Mayes (Central City Opera, Fort Worth Opera) star in this production, which also includes an ensemble of dancers and an unamplified orchestra of four.

Tickets to Photo-Op are $22 online, or $17 for seniors and students. The showtimes for the limited engagement are Sept. 8 at 8:00 p.m., Sept. 9 and 2:00 p.m., Sept. 14 at 8:00 p.m. and Sept. 15 at 8:00 p.m. All performances are at Artisphere’s Black Box Theater in Rosslyn (1101 Wilson Blvd).

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