The fashion, the voices, and beautiful transitions through time are all divine in You Us We All. Baroque Masque, pop culture and 17th century mythical figures beautifully converge in Shara Worden’s (“My Brightest Diamond”) and Andrew Ondrejcak’s whimsical, time-traveling contemporary take on 17th century court entertainment, in You Us We All, currently running as a part of BAM’s Next Wave Festival. Together they have compiled a fantastical opera experience that showcases fashion that looks as if it has been torn from a Haute couture fashion magazine, props that literally descend from above, and the Belgian period instrument ensemble Baroque Orchestration X.
In You Us We All, Singer/Songwriter Shara Worden and writer/director/designer Andrew Ondrejcak create a sophisticated and layered world that moves through time and space, where the past has conversations and writes letters to pop culture divas like Beyonce, Celine Deon and Mariah Carey. The stars of this modern opera are five Virtues: Hope (played by Worden), Virtue (played by acclaimed singer Helga Davis), Time (Carlos Soto), Death (Bernhard Landauer) and Love (Martin Gerke).
Through these five virtues many underlying themes concerning humanity are addressed. With statements like “Does the soul remain after the body dies?” “In the face of eternity everything amounts to nought” and “I sin. So, I will suffer,” these virtues reveal that though on the surface we may be different, our desire to understand life and the desire to feel connected to something greater is in us all.
In You Us We All, the visuals and props are lovely. From Lucite chairs to an orange and magenta quill pen, everything has its proper place and it all works. The costume designer Zane Pihlstrom, the lighting designer Lutz Deppe and the choreographer Stewart Williams seem to have prophetically interpreted the artistic vision of the writer and director, because we are immediately swept into a world of beautiful instruments and sounds that showcase the breadth of the male and female range. With the incorporation of Baroque Orchestration X, a band from Antwerp, the musical composition beautifully coordinates with the lute, strings, percussion, the sounds of a harpsichord and even a typewriter. This all lends to a perfect mix of a classic and contemporary sound and tone.
You Us We All is a definite must see, because as a modern opera it seamlessly appeals to all social classes and sensibilities. As a millennial, I can honestly say that his is the type of opera experience that college students as well as more seasoned patrons would enjoy attending. It’s classic and hip all at once and just a beautiful spectacle to see.
Photos: Kerstin Behrendt
You Us We All
BAM Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton Street
November 11-14th at 7:30pm