Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Ashley: Perfect Lives
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Classical
Perfect Lives has been called "the most influential music/theater/literary work of the 1980s." At its center is the hypnotic voice of Robert Ashley. His continuous song narrates the events of the story and describes a 1980... more »
Listen to Samples
Perfect Lives has been called "the most influential music/theater/literary work of the 1980s." At its center is the hypnotic voice of Robert Ashley. His continuous song narrates the events of the story and describes a 1980's update of the mythology of small town America. Perfect Lives is populated with myriad characters revolving around two musicians --"R", the singer of myth and legend, and his friend, Buddy, "The World's Greatest Piano Player". They have come to a small town in the Midwest to entertain at the Perfect Lives Lounge. As Robert Ashley describes in the opera synopsis, "they fall in with two locals to commit the perfect crime, a metaphor for something philosophical: in this case, to remove a sizable about of money from The Bank for one day (and one day only) and let the whole world know that it was missing." The eloping couple, Ed and Gwyn, the old people at the home, the sheriff and his wife (Will and Ida) who finally unravel the mystery, and Isolde who watches the celebration of the changing of the light at sundown from the doorway of her mother's house are some of the characters who journey through the seven episodes of the opera. Derived from a colloquial idiom, Perfect Lives transforms familiar material into an elaborate metaphor for the rebirth of the human soul. It has been called a comic opera about reincarnation.
Helped to redefine contemporary American opera!
Dr. Stephen Hicks | Manchester, UK | 08/04/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Dear George...I'm not the same person that I used to be..." Ashley's 'Perfect Lives' has a long history, dating from the late 1970s, and exists in many different forms. This CD is the only available complete version of what Ashley calls an 'opera for TV in 7 half-hour episodes'. A classic of 'minimalism', the work also redefined 'opera' with its use of video imagery. The music itself acts as a 'pulse' or beat, often deliberately banal yet quite mesmerisingly beautiful (the 'cocktail piano' style of "Blue" Gene Tyranny), over which is spoken/sung a strange series of narrative monologues. Part of his larger opera trilogy (see 'Atalanta' (pt 1) and 'Now Eleanor's Idea' (pt 3), 'Perfect Lives' is rich in imagery (which you won't get from the CD alone), poetic narrative, chance events and musical experimentation. Along with Meredith Monk or Laurie Anderson, surely one of the most important works for rethinking 'opera' and incorporating new technologies into composition..."He took himself seriously...motel rooms had lost their punch for him...""
Great American Opera
William Michaels | Hillsborough, NJ United States | 08/28/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In my opinion, this is the 8th-greatest opera ever written, and the greatest American, English-language, and 20th-century opera. Far from being "minimalist," this masterpiece is a continuous deluge of gorgeous musical and verbal improvisation. Each of the seven parts has its own unique musical and philosophical environment, but they all form a greater unity unmatched in opera (matched in music only by Swan Lake). It is a crime that this has not been given a public performance at, e.g., the Met. Totally tonal. Very highly recommended (but not for the faint-hearted).
If you're interested, my candidates for #1-7, in descending order, are Das Rheingold, Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute (without spoken dialog), Tristan, Die Walkure, Monteverdi's L'Orfeo, and Carmen."