Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Marvelous Order, a new opera about Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs, premieres soon

After going to see Hamilton last month, I quipped on this blog that someone should do a hip-hop show about Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs.  Imagine my surprise, then, to read in the New Yorker this week that there is, in fact, a new opera about to open focused on--what else--Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs.  It seems the pair's Broadway debut has arrived.  Here is an excerpt from the New Yorker article:

Will Rawls was waiting in the Lorimer Street subway station one recent Sunday, trying to get to a rehearsal in Chelsea—Rawls is the choreographer for a new opera about Robert Moses, the dictatorial city planner, and Jane Jacobs, the populist city un-planner—when he had a thought. The L train wasn’t coming, and pretty soon, with repairs threatening to suspend service between Brooklyn and Manhattan for more than a year, the train wouldn’t be coming at all. “I was, like, this shit is always broken,” Rawls said, after arriving in Chelsea. “I almost want Robert Moses 2.0 to come back and fix the M.T.A.”

“That’s a very human emotion, to want a Moses-like figure to come in and fix everything,” Joshua Frankel, the opera’s director, said.

"What did Moses do about public transit, anyway?” Rawls asked.

“Starved it of money,” Frankel said, with a shrug.


The opera, “A Marvelous Order,” which premières next month, has two acts—“Robert Moses wouldn’t fit inside a one-act play,” Rawls said—and traces Jacobs’s mid-century fights against Moses’s attempts to build a four-lane road through the middle of Washington Square Park and a ten-lane crosstown expressway along Broome Street. Jacobs thought that Moses was trying to “Los Angelize” New York. Moses thought the only people opposing his plans were “a bunch of mothers.”

The opera is called "A Marvelous Order," and you can check out its website here.  A promotional video is below.

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