To many teens, opera can seem boring. But this descriptor is the antithesis of Low Brow Opera Collective’s opera #adulting. An outrageous take on life as a millennial Seattleite, #adulting is a relatable and modern revitalization of a classic art form.
Eschewing a continuous narrative, #adulting presented its story through a series of sketches that follow its protagonist Bucket and her colorful Craigslist-found roommates as they battle student loans, unemployment, Verizon customer service, and food theft. Each roommate (portrayed beautifully by Eric Angus Jeffords, Christine Oshiki, Krissy Terwilliger, and Jared White) serves as a caricature of a millennial stereotype. Their struggles were comically shallow, but the overarching theme of confusion and uncertainty was entirely relatable and surprisingly poignant. This relatability is in part thanks to the libretto by Natalie Stewart Elder and the score by John Ervin Brooks, which add to the comedic and melodramatic elements with apt emotional shifts.
While some sections of the second act rely slightly too much on musical motifs from the first act, leading some of the songs to seem repetitive, the majority of the opera is a refreshingly modern composition that incorporates both traditional operatic themes and contemporary humor. This is perhaps best exemplified in Requiem for an iPhone, when an ironic funeral dirge accompanies a dramatized monologue mourning an unbroken phone screen. By expressing modern scenarios through opera, Low Brow Opera Collective creates a sense of approachability and realism in a traditionally unapproachable and archaic medium.
The down-to-earth nature of the show is well served by the intimate setting of 18th & Union. A small audience and a pared-down set design transformed the space into an intimate Seattle apartment with millennial pink walls and artsy posters. By breaking from the traditional grand opera halls of other companies, #adulting again reframes expectations of what opera is.
For those who suffer from a distaste for opera, #adulting might be the remedy. It’s a fresh take on an intimidating art form, and the honest relatability and humor are sure to be enjoyed by even the most skeptical of audiences. But fans of traditional operas shouldn't be afraid that this bold new vision strays too far from tradition, or relies on too simple of a concept. Instead, #adulting reaffirms the power of opera to tell diverse, entertaining, and enjoyable stories in a way that allows for more introspection than a traditional musical or play. As the characters navigate each conflict, the music and melodrama of Opera heightens the seriocomic nature of the show and gives each character a chance to connect with the audience and the story. A fantastic mix of classical and contemporary concepts, #adulting bridges the divide between opera fanatics and future opera fans.
#adulting is running at 18th and Union on January 30 - February 9. For event information see here.