It would seem Courtney Love’s musical career has taken a positively Pagliacci-esque turn as the Hole singer recently announced her pending appearance in Kansas City Choir Boy, a “pop opera.” Love says she’s been cast in a heretofore unspecified, though leading, role in the performance, which was written piecemeal over the course of eight years by musician and composer Todd Almond.
Per an interview with Almond by the New York Times’ culture blog, ArtsBeat, the general premise of the opera appears to be “about a man and a woman in love in the Midwest… but then the woman sees something on the horizon that makes her realize that she has a greater destiny, and she follows that.”
Though labeled an “opera,” Kansas City Choir Boy is often referred to by Almond as “concept album” which, given the context of its composition, would appear the more accurate descriptor. The various songs in the performance were written separately by Almond, and at some point in the composition process, he realized the songs carried a unified theme. Working out of a Kansas-City hotel, Almond did the majority of the musical writing on his laptop, using Garage Band.
Mr. Almond’s opera appears to be a passion project on multiple levels: although the show’s listing dictates the cast as “Todd Almond and Ensemble,” there are only two roles, and Almond is playing one of them. Add that to Almond’s claim that “I’ve always been fascinated with [Courtney Love]… I love her voice, and I think she’s a great actress,” and it seems as though the composer has few qualms with publicly showcasing his inner fanboy. It remains to be seen, however, if this will lead to palpable onstage chemistry between Love and Almond or something more ungainly.
Musically speaking, little is known about Kansas City Choir Boy, itself, other than an ambiguous description of the stylistic elements of the pop opera as “instrumental loops that can be transformed into a musical backing,” though the manner in which it was composed and its casual “concept album” epithet suggest it’s, in all likelihood, hardly reminiscent of anything by Handel or Rossini (but if it ain’t baroque, don’t fix it, right?). The musical/opera/concept album, which is directed by Kevin Newbury, will enjoy a 10-run premier at the Prototype: Opera/Theater/Now festival, happening in New York from January 8 to 17.