- Club Bide-a-Wee 12:41
- Jill’s apartment;
Club Bide-a Wee 31:37
Michael Sahl and Eric Salzman
Civilization & Its Discontents
THE DELIGHTS AND DISCONTENTS OF CIVILIZATION IN A CLASSIC CLUB-AND-BEDROOM MUSIC FARCE
Opera for Our Time: The Sahl/Salzman Prize-winning Music Theater Work Re-released on Labor
Civilization and Its Discontents is the title of a famous essay of Sigmund Freud about the ills of society. Civilization & Its Discontents is also the title of a ground-breaking new music theater piece, a lively and biting musical satire written and composed jointly by Michael Sahl and Eric Salzman. It was originally a prize-winning off-off-Broadway music theater comedy, a music-theater recording for National Public Radio that had one of the largest air plays of any work of its kind, and a Prix Italia winner that was aired on radio stations around the world.
The recorded form of the work, especially produced for radio and disc by the authors, originally issued by Nonesuch and now re-issued by Labor, uses the form of a musical radio drama to capture the dark side of the so-called ‘me’ generation in a whirlwind of ‘break-a-leg’ dance music, pick-ups, one-night stands, frantic phone calls, egocentric confrontations and mad man hi jinks.
Carlos Arachnid invites us to join him and his friends in Club Bide-a-wee whose motto is "If it feels good, do it!" Dancing alternates with 'freeze-frame' moments of high anxiety, angry words and sexual come-ons.
Scene II is in Jill Goodheart's bedroom where a seduction scene is interrupted by a constant string of phone calls, the arrival of Jill's boyfriend and the deus ex machina appearance of Arachnid who brings us back to Club Bide-a-wee for a deconstructed dance orgy and an ironic morality.
Moments of ‘80s retro alternate with stunning sound images, a relentless musical flow, seduction music of extreme beauty and a social commentary that is as amusing as it is scary and remarkably up-to-date.
“…a brilliant amalgam of jazz, pop, blues and classical forms, cleverly developed and timed to make the satiric points stand out in the most vivid musical and theatrical terms.”
–Peter G. Davis, New York Times
“…a work that builds up its own undulating momentum and sustains it so thoroughly that the audience boogies long after the music stops. A skillful, rhythmic integration of words, music and movement is responsible for the compelling power of this stunning show.”
“…jazz and pop elements in an understandable idiom, in addition to avantgarde traits originating in the NY experimental scene…swinging melodies that seem to stem from Gershwin, combined with strong, somewhat abrupt but exciting harmonies and surprising rhythmical accents that are reminiscent of Thelonious Monk…Kurt Weill for our time.”
–Doron Nagan, Algemeen Dagblad (The Netherlands).
“…a delightful, tuneful satire…not everything is funny (as) the underlying subject is something very real…This is a wonderful work.”
–Rita H. Mead, Newsletter of the Institute for Studies in American Music.
"...highly entertaining...The music...gets deeply into your head. So does much of the text.... Everyone works hard to put across Sahl and Salzman’s sarcastic rant against … well, against something. (The stars of Seinfeld could have performed this opera.) To be honest, they succeed. Furthermore, every single word of the text can be understood. Civilization and Its Discontents is too clever for its own good, maybe, and it plucks awfully low-hanging fruit, but I keep coming back to it, and that must mean something."
Raymond Tuttle, Fanfare
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