Thursday, August 6, 2009

Timberlake and Spears reunite, operatically...

Pop culture and opera - united. Interesting concept, huh?

Well as we all know, opera has made its name over the years from over-the-top plots and overtly melodramatic music. Oh, and let's not kid ourselves - on occasion, the two have combine to create a sort of A-Bomb reaction from which a larger than life superstar rises from the ashes. (see picture at right)

Now, composer Jacob Cooper has that formula and has created a contemporary opera from it. The opera, Timberbrit is not only relevant to today's pop culture obsessions, but also embraces operatic excesses creating an over-the-top plot that imagines the tragic end of one particularly tempestuous pop diva.

Britney Spears.

According to NPR, Timberbrit - as in Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears - is a tragic tale that imagines Spears' last concert which is not only her final bow, but also takes place in the final hours of her life. Justin Timberlake, (or if you're in our household - "JT") returns after a long absence to win back Spears' love. But, it's too late - in the end she chooses the audience's love above JT's.

While working on his doctorate at Yale University, Jacob Cooper looked at the psychological aspects of how some traditional operas tend to stretch time during death scenes. We've all seen it.

Look at poor Mimi in La Boheme - during most of Act IV she coughs, spews, sputters and finally succumbs to TB in the end. Or, look at Antonia in the Tales of Hoffmann - bless her heart, she spends a good part of her Act singing herself right to death because the villainous Doctor has conjured up her mother's spirit to coax her to do so. I know, they aren't very realistic, but it they sure keep you on the edge of your seat.

What's absolutely amazing (at least the geeky side of me thinks so) is that Cooper used a time-stretching technique in which digital audio software is used to slow down Spears' songs. As NPR calls it, the results are "hauntingly tragic". Imagine "I'm not a girl, Not yet a woman. All I need is time, A moment that is mine, While I'm in between." slowed down by time-stretching. Kind of changes things, doesn't it?

Not all of the songs can be classified as totally altered Britney, however. Cooper collaborated with writer Yuka Igarashi and the performers to create new pieces of music inspired by those slowed-down ones.

Now, there's time-stretching and then there's mind numbing overkill. What I see in the newly produced Timberbrit music video Worst Fantasy seems to err on the side of mind numbing overkill.

Having not seen the show, I can only speak to the music video itself. After throwing out that caveat, I would say: Musical Content and Lyrics get a C-, with the Videography getting an A because it's not easy to visually make me feel as dizzy and the music sounds. But, the Concept and Cultural Relevance get a resounding A+.

What are your thoughts? Comment- because I'd like to know.

1 comment:

James Newman said...

Make sure to let me know what you're thinking by leaving a comment, too!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...