Billy Blythe: Opera Comes to Ithaca

Composer Bonnie Montgomery is adorable as she quietly jokes with a noticeable southern twang, “It’s nice to perform without a bunch of beer bottles clanking.” It is clear why the company had her introduce the show with a few songs of her own, I wouldn’t want anyone else to guide me through life in small town Arkansas. She does so admirably in the world premiere of this self described folk opera, albeit through an unnecessary lens. The marketing posters boasted an iconic and gray Clinton epically gazing against an American flag backdrop. With Hillary campaigning a few hours away in NYC at the time of the performance, I was prematurely concerned the show would try to be a bit too ambitious for itself. But it turned out to be quite the opposite.

SWAN | Where Rhetoric Falls Short

Musical composition and performance are perhaps two of the most effective vessels for the indication of political support or dissent by private citizens. Consider the late 1960s, when groups and musicians like Jefferson Airplane or Bob Dylan wrote music that challenged the Vietnam War and political establishment. As evidenced by the festivals, riots and protests of that decade, not only does music spread awareness about a particular cause, but it also forms immeasurable solidarity among its listeners. Yet, what happens when musical choice and expression extends itself to public officials? Politicians, by the nature of their existence, must find ways to connect with their constituents.