City Paper is not for tourists
Magnum Opus Warehouse – Mainstage
Remaining Performances: Sunday, July 12 at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, July 16 at 5:30 p.m.Saturday, July 18 at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 25 at 8:30 p.m.
They say: “Robert, a struggling playwright, undertakes a Faustian bargain of inspiration in return for his sanity. Driven by his desire to please his wife Claire and succeed as a writer, he risks his life in return for his Magnum Opus.”
Brian’s take: When he was a kid, my little brother refused to eat eggs. And I remember one morning when, despite his protestations, my mother kept on cajoling him to take a bite — just one bite — until finally he explained, “I like eggs, I just don’t like the taste!”
That’s pretty much how I’d describe my feelings about Magnum Opus, a new opera by the Alterna Opera company. It’s a predictably well-made tragedy: You’ve got your struggling playwright, his casually flirtatious wife, the composer charming her into casual flirtation, and a pair of muses (though they behave more like sirens) whispering some nefarious solutions in the playwright’s ear.
The real playwright should’ve summoned a few siren-muses for himself, because while the show does contain plenty of your daily vitamins and minerals, it leaves you wanting some flavor. Likewise with the performers, who belt a respectable original score but enlist the rest of their bodies — i.e. limbs and facial muscles — with much less vigor than they do their diaphragms.
Not that Magnum Opus doesn’t manage to be pleasing. The cast is invested enough — in its own laconic way — the orchestra tight enough, the production polished enough to make for an enjoyable time. Does it live up to its namesake? Not quite. Maybe if they retitled it “A Highly Palatable 60 Minutes.” But as one specter of a character realizes, after his own maddening brush with the muses, notes on a sheet of composition might resemble raindrops on a window or, depending on your state of mind, flies on a carcass. Magnum Opus manages to do both.
See it if: That last metaphor does it for ya.
Skip it if: You really should be at home writing instead.