Performance Spotlight: Andy: A POPera

29 Sep 2015 andy warhol opera

Although many associate Andy Warhol primarily with the glamour of New York City, his ties to the neighboring Commonwealth of Pennsylvania run deep there as well. He was born Andrew Warhola Jr. in Pittsburgh in 1928 and as an already eccentric, delicate teen he chose to study commercial art at Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh.

In 1987 after his sudden and shocking death at the age of 58 his brothers flew him back home to North Pittsburgh and St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cemetery in Bethel Park is his last resting place. After his death the state managing his affairs chose to locate The Andy Warhol Museum there as well.

Moving to that other urban center in the Keystone State though the Philadelphia Opera chose to open it’s 2015-2016 season in a rather unusual way. Partnering with a local cabaret troop, Bearded Ladies Cabaret, they presented the first staging of “Andy: A POPera,” a unique combination of low budget cabaret and high art that not only celebrate’s Warhol’s life but imagines just how he would have fitted into today’s technologically obsessed world, especially the world of social media.

One has to imagine that Warhol would have been in his element on Facebook and Instagram and more than a little smugly amused that his prediction that in the future everyone would be famous for 15 minutes has indeed pretty much come true. And it is how he might of reacted to this new world that is at the centre of the show (as well as the probably rather accurate musing that Andy really is the Godfather of the Selfie)

Composer Dan Visconti, who co-composed the opera with Heath Allen, said, “Ultimately, the show will make audiences think about the way that Warhol embraced image and branding so as to engage our present day cult of social media, where the dream of fame and the ability to control and craft one’s image have proceeded beyond Warhol’s wildest fantasies.”

Check out a clip of the show below:

But would Andy Warhol, a man who created, even if it was just in head, on a 24/7 basis really have loved, or even tolerated the social media environment of today? Possibly not, as this clever commentary and imagined interview with a ghostly Warhol predicts. But we think it is fair to say that his work did have a huge influence on its creation, whether he would have liked it or not.