Milwaukee Opera Theatre’s ‘26’
Creating a ‘Great Italian Songbook’
Jill Anna Ponasik
(singer-actor), Nathan Wesselowski (composer-singer) and Kelly Anderson
(choreographer-dancer) spent a full year deconstructing and reconstructing this
“Great Italian Songbook” into a tangled tale of love and despair for the
characters they play in the show. Wesselowski refashioned some solo arias into
duets and group pieces, and composed bridge music.
Anderson will dance and also sing a bit;
singers Ponasik and Wesselowski will also dance; and their brilliant
accompanist Jack Forbes Wilson will add his good voice to the mix. The songs
will be sung in Italian, but salient phrases will be projected in English in
the manner of silent film titles to advance the plot.
Ponasik is the company’s
new, young artistic director. After nearly closing from exhaustion last year,
this nomadic “people’s opera” has had a vibrant season under her leadership.
She hosts free monthly Voice Labs in her home, where anyone can experiment in
music performance and get feedback over wine and food from the group in
attendance. She hopes it will
inspire new work. She’s
commissioned a “superhero operetta” about a woman who can slow time from
composer-writer Jason Powell for next Halloween. It all deserves support.
26 will have its premiere at Danceworks Studio Theatre (1661 N. Water St.) at 7:30 p.m. May 14-16, with an additional 3 p.m. matinee on May 16.