Jim Jarmusch Wants You to See These Monodramas!

by Seth Colter Walls

City Opera is putting forward an evening of contemporary, one-act “monodramas.” It opens this Friday and runs through April 8th. The lineup is three works: one each by John Zorn, Arnold Schoenberg and Morton Feldman. Unsurprisingly or possibly crazily for something so rare and cool, dozens of $12 seats remain, as do a handful of $25 spots. Monodrama, you need not have previously known, means just one person singing in each piece.

And Jim Jarmusch has co-signed the event by declaring himself way into both composer Morton Feldman, as well as his librettist — the one and only Samuel Beckett. The Beckett-love doesn’t surprise me, but Jarmusch’s being a fan of Feldman — particularly the six-hour-long String Quartet No. 2 — wasn’t immediately intuitive until I remembered: oh yeah, the director of Down By Law likes himself some deliberate pacing also.

Many of Feldman’s works are far too, uh, long, to come across well in a single YouTube video (or to be ideally experienced by clicking through 5 or 6 YouTubes to get the full performance). But the “Durations” miniatures are nice. Here’s one:

And this page offers more background than does Jarmusch’s video, with regard to the working method employed by two weirdo geniuses who barely knew one other.

Last week, John Zorn told us that his monodramatic one-act is set to feature “70 people on stage, wild costumes, people flying thru the air, pyrotechnics, animations of [Antonin] Artaud drawings, and the AMAZING voice of Finnish soprano, Anu Komsi.” So yeah, I’ll be going to this performance multiple times. Come along!

Seth Colter Walls is The Awl’s chief correspondent for the difficult arts. He has a Tumblr and a dayjob both!