I love innovative art and parody and this ballad opera fits the bill perfectly. The Real Divas of Dade County is a parody on such reality shows as: Jersey Shore. The Real House Wives of Orange County and The Real World to name a few. The cast included two jersey girls and a Guido, three valley girls, a closeted flamer, an uptown diva, a biker chic, a goth girl, a new age stoner, a washed up teen idol, a county girl and a lazy slob all living in a house together. There was no concrete plot because reality shows don't have concrete plots. The story was the usual reality show %$@#& ; cat fighting, unrequited love, shopping and partying, ''my life is crap'', etc.
As if paroding reality TV weren't enough innovation the writers, Frank Cain, Melanie Cain, and Jeff Turk spliced in musical numbers from famous operas spanning the baroque era to the twentieth century. For me , this was a new idea and I found it very exciting. My excitement did not come from a hope that my favorite Aurea would be included since I am not opera savvy and I don't have one. The excitement came from realizing that songs, written decades or centuries ago and having no connection with each other, could be fused together to create a cohesive parody of a comparatively recent phenomenon as reality TV. Brilliant!
No composer was turned in his grave over the singing either. I found the female voices most memorable but in pop music I have always been partial to female voices and I guess that is the case with opera, too. For me, Melanie Cain, Allison Hull, Nancy Davis and Jessica Timman stood out the most. If the Overture Center is going to allow these divas to sing in their venue they need to install safety belts because I was almost blown out of my seat! If I was deaf I would feel the vibrations of their vocals penetrate my cells. That is how powerful they were.
One of the male performers penetrated me in another way [pun intended]. George Abbott played the flaming closet case with comedic precision and I found his rendition of Lonely House, from Street Scene, moving. It brought depth to his otherwise bubbly character.
My detraction's are few. However, I must mention a scene in which a performer broke character during a duet. It disrupted my illusion. The announcer did not instruct the audience to turn off their cell-phones and proved that adults need their hands held like children. I also felt that funny commercial parodies would have added alittle spice to the show. After all, can there be any TV without commercials?
The Real Divas of Dade County is a Fresco Opera Theater Production. For more information about the Fresco Opera Theater go to www.frescooperatheater.com