Politics is art and art is politics. In this case a cantata based on the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Unless you were under a rock for the past decade you remember the infamous hearings in which Alberto Gonzalas denied that he hired and especially fired attorneys based on their political alignment. This cantata uses the hearing transcripts.
A wonderful musical experience and a new political moment for us all. Oh, did we mention Arlen Spector is a soprano?
from the press release:
Philadelphia, PA – “The Gonzales Cantata,” a gender-bending 40-minute choral work, will be given three performances as part of the 2009 Philadelphia Fringe Festival. The cantata takes its libretto directly from the 2007 Senate Judiciary Committee hearings in which disgraced former Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales famously said “I don’t recall” more than 71 times. Performances will take place at the Rotunda at the University of Pennsylvania, 4011 Walnut Street, on Friday September 4 at 7PM, Saturday September 5 at 7PM, and Sunday September 6 at 2PM.
Composer Melissa Dunphy, an incoming Penn doctoral candidate, was inspired to write the Gonzales Cantata after hearing PA Senator Arlen Specter grilling Alberto Gonzales in an NPR story in 2007. She counts among her musical influences Handel, Phil Kline, John Adams and P.D.Q. Bach. In a statement against the prevalence of men in politics, the genders of the main roles have been reversed – Gonzales, Specter and Patrick Leahy are set in the soprano register, while a tenor sings Sen. Diane Feinstein – and the staid atmosphere of the Capitol building has been replaced by the pageantry of Miss America.
Despite the political nature of the piece, Dunphy insists that the Gonzales Cantata is a study of character rather than politics.
“This is a humanist drama, not a partisan statement. We see Gonzales’ mistakes, but we also feel some real pathos for a man who has dug himself into a terrible hole.” Dunphy is normally seen onstage in Philly as “undoubtedly the city’s leading Shakespeare ingénue” (Philadelphia Inquirer).
Press Photo by Matt Dunphy, www.bitrotten.com Pictured: Melissa Dunphy
The Gonzales Cantata
Friday, September 4th at 7PM
Saturday, September 5th at 7PM
Sunday, September 6th at 2PM
4011 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
purchase at the door or through the Live Arts and Philly Fringe Box Office
(484) 340‑2530 (cell)