by Steven Pisano
After an American premiere at Nashville Opera earlier this year, the provocative trio of one-act operas, Three Way, with music by Robert Paterson and libretto by David Cote, has come to the Fishman Space at the Brooklyn Academy of Music this week, presented by American Opera Projects and featuring the American Modern Ensemble conducted by Dean Williamson.
In "The Companion," a single woman, Maya (Danielle Pastin), grows bored with her android companion, Joe (Samuel Levine), who she leases as her lover. Joe can make love all night and is ever so attentive to her every need, complimenting her, cooking her favorite food. What more could any woman want? Well, Maya wants love. But for that, Joe's software must be updated, so call in the tech guy (Wes Mason). The results turn out to be not exactly what Maya had in mind.
In "Safe Word," we are in the sexual dungeon of Mistress Salome (Eliza Bonet), a dominatrix, whose unnamed businessman client (Matthew Trevino) wants to be physically beaten and verbally humiliated. Along the way, the roles change, and suddenly one of them is laying on the floor, apparently without a pulse. The titular safe word is what the client uses to indicate that things have gone too far. But sometimes the safe word can be dangerous.
The closing opera, "Masquerade," features a suave couple (Bonet and Trevino) who has invited three couples--a thirtyish couple (Courtney Ruckman and Levine) looking to spice things up for the first time, a veteran pair of swingers (Pastin and Mason) who have been through the paces before, and a "post-gender" couple (Melisa Boneti and Jordan Rutter) who look like androgynous twins. They all don masks and enter and exit the stage in various combinations, occasional singing arias about their particular plight.
It's all good, clean, and naughty fun. Performances run through Sunday. Tickets can be found here.
(More photos can be found here.)