Well sort of… There isn’t anything a purist anyone would call opera in this year’s sex themed Luminato line up but there is one event that might be of interest to opera lovers. There will be three screenings of River of Fundament; a film by artist Matthew Barney and composer Jonathan Bepler.
RIVER OF FUNDAMENT, a Homeric story of regeneration and rebirth, loosely based on Norman Mailer’s towering 1983 novel Ancient Evenings, is the cornerstone of the Festival’s multi-point Matthew Barney celebration.
RIVER OF FUNDAMENT combines both traditional modes of narrative cinema with documentary footage of performance, sculpture and opera to reconstruct Mailer’s story of Egyptian gods and the seven stages of reincarnation.
The central scene of RIVER OF FUNDAMENT is a wake for Norman Mailer, which is imagined as a lavish dinner party at Mailer’s apartment attended by New York’s cultural literati, including Salman Rushdie, Liz Smith, Dick Cavett, Lawrence Weiner, and Larry Holmes, as well as by characters from Ancient Evenings and Barney’s earlier film project the CREMASTER Cycle. The wake takes place inside the Mailer apartment, which in the final act of the film is ferried down the river. Barney recasts “Norman” in the role of the protagonist, as he endures two rebirths, failing in the third, in hopes of attaining a higher status among the ancestry of Great American Letters. The first “Norman I” is played by John Buffalo Mailer, 35, the author’s youngest son, Norman “II” emerges as African American jazz musician Milford Graves, 72, and the final “Norman III” is portrayed by Chief David Beautiful Bald Eagle, 94, a Lakota tribal leader.
It’s certainly ambitious. It runs six hours including two intervals; i.e. about as long as Parsifal with which it has been compared.
The screenings will be held at the Elgin theatre on Friday, June 6 at 6pm, Saturday, June 7 at 5pm and Sunday, June 8 at 2pm. Tickets are $40 and will go on sale at luminatofestival.com on Saturday 12th (earlier for subscribers and the like).
The rest of the festival is an eclectic mix of the popular and the avant garde and can be checked out on the website.