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Jackie O - 1997 Opera Production 

An opera by composer Michael Daugherty and librettist Wayne Koestenbaum

World Premiere co-production between The Banff Centre and Houston Grand Opera

Jackie O Production - 1997

Jackie and Friends

Jackie O is a musical and dramatic happening that takes us back to the heady days of the 1960s and an imagined gathering of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and her peers in Andy Warhol's New York Studio.

Reinterpret Jackie through the eyes of Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Grace, Maria Callas and others. Explore the essence of media celebrity and pop culture. Rediscover the decade noted for extreme idealism, crash-and-burn transition and the rise of post-modernism. All to a fabulous, pop-inspired score.

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The Synopsis

At an artist's studio loft, a crowd embarks on an improvisatory happening. Celebrities are conjured, culminating in the creation of Jackie. The crowd pursues her story: Jackie re-enters society after her self-imposed isolation following the assassination of JFK. At a party she meets Aristotle Onassis with his paramour, Maria Callas. He jilts Maria and convinces Jackie to go with him to see the movie I am Curious (Yellow). Just as they are leaving, the phone rings and the crowd is informed that there has been another assassination. A paparazzo documents Jackie's every move.

Jackie marries Ari and they live on his yacht, The Christina, anchored at the island of Skorpios. Maria seeks a reunion with Ari and he agrees to meet her at the Lido, a swank hangout. In a trance, Jackie leaves the ship and goes to the island. There she encounters Maria and the paparazzo. The women reconcile and together they smash the paparazzo's camera. Jackie hears and converses with the voice of JFK. Transfigured, she decides to return to America.

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The Artists

Jackie O composer Michael Daugherty has been lauded for such pop inspired works as Metropolis Symphony, Elvis Everywhere and Desi (a homage to the Desi Arnaz character of television's "I Love Lucy.")

Librettist Wayne Koestenbaum is an associate professor of English at Yale, a Whiting Writer's Award winner and the author of Jackie Under My Skin: Interpreting an Icon, and The Queen's Throat: Opera, Homosexuality and the Mystery of Desire.

Jackie O's production team includes: director Nicholas Muni, the newly appointed artistic director of the Cincinnati Opera; designer Peter Werner; and lighting designer Harry Frehner. This is the same team which created le nouvel ensemble moderne of Montreal and The Banff Centre's acclaimed 1995 co-production of Alben Berg's Wozzeck. The music director for the Banff production will be Bruno Ferrandis.

Jackie O was performed by the Houston Opera Studio March 14 and 16, 1997 in Houston Texas.

Jackie O Production - 1997
Photo by Don Lee

". . . a highly imaginative and brilliantly executed
new piece of musical theatre."

Kenneth Delong
Calgary Herald

Jackie O Production - 1997
Photo by Don Lee

"The most musically satisfying current-events opera since Nixon in China."

David Patrick Stearns
USA Today

Jackie O Production - 1997
Photo by Don Lee

"Sure it's camp, but well-grounded by Koestenbaum's poetic libretto and Daugherty's brilliantly eclectic score."

Yahlin Chang, Newsweek

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