‘Street Scene’ the Broadway opera

Aubrey Canfield

The Cast of Street Scene celebrate Ice Cream Photo Courtesy of William Taylor
The cast of 'Street Scene' celebrate ice cream. Photo Courtesy of William Taylor

What can you do when the air is so hot that the milk is going sour and you live in an overcrowded apartment with tenants who are stricken with poverty, alcoholics or worse, murderers? Kurt Weill’s “Street Scene” based on Elmer Rice’s Pulitzer Prize winning play asks that same question.

Based in New York during the late 1940’s, “Street Scene” is exactly that: an attempt to present a moment in the life of the working class. It is a glimpse in to the lives of the residents of an apartment complex, all from different countries, creeds and walks of life. The action takes place in front of the complex, with all the hustle and bustle of a crowded neighborhood; in essence a street scene.

As a first-timer to a CSUN opera, I was intrigued and anxious to see what the spectacle would entail. An impressive two-story set, complete with several windows – each with fully functioning blinds- allowed the performers to peak, hide and play throughout the performance. A truly interactive set, the audience always had something to see no matter where he looked.

While this was my first time seeing an opera at CSUN I am no stranger to the work of both professors Garry Lennon and David Aks. These two creative individuals have worked many times before and have facilitated a true collaboration between the music and theater departments.

This production of “Street Scene” is no exception. Lennon’s clever staging along with Aks’ skilled musical direction came together to create a dynamic and exciting performance.

To many students the word opera is cause for fear, confusion and plain aversion. “Street Scene” however might be better labeled as opera “light.” Conventions of classical opera mixed with more contemporary blues and jazz tones create a style to please both opera buffs and newcomers a like.

Accompanying a superb score is a highly talented cast of young singers and musicians. A realm normally reserved for the older and upper class, this opera presents a group of young enthusiastic performers singing songs of the working class, with a contemporary flare and the skills of a seasoned performer.

“Street Scene” continues its run through Nov. 1 in Norhoff Hall’s Campus Theatre. Experience the spectacle, grandeur and fun of the opera. Call or visit the box office 818-677-2488. Break out of your comfort zone, and I’ll see you at the theater.