Monday, September 29, 2008

Is Walt a tenor or a bass?

News from the New York City Opera:

In these times of toil and trouble, this is what America needs ...

New York City Opera Commissions Philip Glass to Compose an Opera Based on the Life of Walt Disney

Following a meeting of New York City Opera’s Board of Directors, Gerard Mortier, General Manager Designate today announced that City Opera is commissioning Philip Glass to compose a new opera, The Perfect American which imaginatively explores the life and career of Walt Disney. Based on the recent novel Der K├Ânig von Amerika (translated into English as The Perfect American by Peter Stephan Jungk, the opera, presented in collaboration with Improbable, is scheduled to open City Opera’s 2012-2013 season.

[...] Peter Stephan Jungk’s novel The Perfect American imagines the final months of Walt Disney's life as recounted by the fictional Austrian cartoonist Wilhelm Dantine, who worked for Disney in the 1940s and 50s. Through the prism of Dantine’s European sensibility, and his feelings of admiration and resentment toward his boss, the novel presents a multilayered image of the mid-20th-century American dream.

“The story of the last days of Walt Disney, American Icon and creator of perhaps the most pervasive fantasy world on our planet, is surprisingly gripping and at times disturbing. But, on the face of it, how could it be anything else? The pulse of his life has to be the pulse of our own American culture. And, like other aspects of life here, it is unimaginable, alarming, and truly frightening. I am looking forward to beginning these collaborations with Gerard Mortier at the New York City Opera,” stated Philip Glass.

I remember precisely the time and location when I heard that Uncle Walt had died.

It was a sunny December afternoon in 1966. I was outside my girlfriend's house in my Volkswagen beetle, nuzzling my girlfriend's neck. And then there was a news flash on the silly little radio on the VeeDub's metal dash that Walt Disney was dead, and the nuzzling stopped.

And I remember thinking: "This is awful ... wonder if my dad knows?"

He did. And he was somber when he got home from the studio that night.

-- Steve Hulett


Anonymous said...

How exciting! Glass is probably the perfect person to do this, too--although Sondheim would probably loved to tackle this kind of subject matter as well. Curious to know if the book it's being based on has been translated to English??

Jeff Massie said...

I understand the novel has been published in English, as I linked above.

Anonymous said...

Walt's last days were spent in the hospital. How the hell do you do an opera about that?

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