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Let Me Die

Posted September 21st, 2019
DescriptionContextual ProgrammingAbout the ArtistsInterviewFurther ReadingVideo

September 21–28, 2019

Conversations swirl about opera’s demise. But just as death arias provide the emotional heart of classic opera, Joseph Keckler extols the enduring life and relevance of an artform purportedly in its death throes.

With the style of a rock star, the three-plus-octave voice of a classically trained bass-baritone, and a keen comic sensibility, Keckler brings his rich voice and one-of-a-kind vision to an absurd yet affecting world premiere. Combining death sequences drawn from the canon of classic opera with original narratives and music, this ensemble performance collage is at once a festive meditation, a strange ritual, and a morbid medley of epic proportions.

Featuring full-length arias and snippets of music, Let Me Die also plays with the poetics of fragmentation; the title comes from “Lasciatemi morire,” the Monteverdi death song which is itself a fragment from a lost opera.

Performed in English, German with English supertitles.

85 minutes

let me die

“What begins as funny becomes increasingly tragic. Keckler’s power as a singer and his commanding stage presence draw the audience out of the comedy of the work—but then he punctuates the drama with humorous commentary.” Hyperallergic

“I do appreciate a good death aria and the paradoxical way that a character who is supposedly fatally wounded or otherwise enfeebled can deliver the most arresting and even technically demanding lament—a representation of the body failing via a virtuosic display that requires so much of the body. But that’s the way opera works.” Joseph Keckler

$40–$60 general
$15 students/25-and-under
$2 FringeACCESS
Member discounts available
Buy Tickets

Presented in partnership with Opera Philadelphia as part of the 019 Festival

Photos by  Dominic M. Mercier (featured), Frans Franciscus (below). M. Sharkey (center)

Let Me Die is a project of Creative Capital. It was developed in part during a Roman J. Witt Artist Residency at The University of Michigan Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, with a work-in-progress preview at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. Let Me Die was also developed in part during a residency at Baryshnikov Arts Center, New York, NY.

It was developed, in part, with assistance from the Orchard Project, Ari Edelson, Artistic Director.

And by Camp Fringe 2017 at FringeArts, Philadelphia. The project also benefited from residencies at Yaddo and MacDowell.

Support for Let Me Die has been provided to Opera Philadelphia by the William Penn Foundation.

 

 

 

 

Festival Producers Larry & Ann Rosen Spector Festival Co-Producers Tony Forte & Ryan Hummel; Shelley Green & Michael Golden; Sissie & Herb Lipton


Contextual Programming

Let Me Die: Artist Talk.

Sept 6 at 4pm at the Fringe Festival Bookstore in Cherry Street Pier

Joseph Keckler and Sarah Williams (Opera Philadelphia) moderated by Dr. Laura Portano-Biggs (University of Pennsylvania)


About Joseph Keckler

let me die

Recently hailed by The New York Times as “major vocal talent whose range shatters the conventional boundaries,” singer, musician, writer, artist and humorist Joseph Keckler has garnered acclaim for his rich, versatile 3+ octave voice and sharp wit. He performs widely and has appeared at Centre Pompidou, Miami Art Basel, UCB, SXSW, Adult Swim Festival, the Lincoln Center and many other venues internationally. He made his off-broadway debut at the Lincoln Center in Preludes. He is the author of many songs, videos, and short pieces, as well as several evening-length performance pieces and plays. His book Dragon at the Edge of a Flat World was published by Turtle Point Press in 2017.

 

 


Interview with Joseph Keckler

May 2019. Read the full interview on the FringeArts Blog.

FringeArts: What inspired Let Me Die?

Joseph Keckler: I was attracted to the scenes in part because of the paradox they present: often the deaths in opera are the most virtuosic displays. So although these moments depict bodily failure they are in reality great vocal and physical feats.

I also noticed people talking about opera, as an art form, in terms of death: “opera is not dead,” etc., and was compelled by the idea that seeing opera once functioned as a “rehearsal for death.”

FringeArts: Other than death, what themes and qualities do you see running through the operatic death scenes?

Joseph Keckler: The scenes are alternately—or sometimes simultaneously—sublime and absurd. That’s my jam.

FringeArts: What do you hope audiences take away from Let Me Die?

Joseph Keckler: Nothing. To the contrary, I hope they leave something behind.


Further reading

Joseph Keckler by Olivia Laing in BOMB

Excerpt: Joseph Keckler is a magician, a vagabond of the outer boroughs with an eye for the unorthodox, irregular, anomalous, and eccentric. The first time I met him, in 2011, I was struck both by his silver jacket and his impeccable manners. He’s the most charming man I know, also the most fragrant … As a writer and singer he nudges language to its limits; as a performer he is uncannily commanding.

Read the full article


Video

“Shroom Trip Opera,” an original song by Joseph Keckler

Let Me Die: Artist Talk

Posted September 6th, 2019
September 6 at 4pm
 
Join us at the Fringe Festival Bookstore at Cherry Street Pier where Fringe Festival performer Joseph Keckler and Opera Philadelphia New Works Administrator Sarah Williams will discuss Keckler’s new piece Let Me Die  with moderator Dr. Laura Protano-Biggs from the University of Pennsylvania.
Free, RSVP Suggested

About Joseph Keckler 

Recently hailed by The New York Times as “major vocal talent whose range shatters the conventional boundaries,” singer, musician, writer, artist and humorist Joseph Keckler has garnered acclaim for his rich, versatile 3+ octave voice and sharp wit. He performs widely and has appeared at Centre Pompidou, Miami Art Basel, UCB, SXSW, Adult Swim Festival, the Lincoln Center and many other venues internationally. He made his off-broadway debut at the Lincoln Center in Preludes. He is the author of many songs, videos, and short pieces, as well as several evening-length performance pieces and plays. His book Dragon at the Edge of a Flat World was published by Turtle Point Press in 2017.

About the Fringe Festival Bookstore 

FringeArts partners with much-loved local bookseller Head House Books to present a pop-up emporium on Cherry Street Pier. Head down to Philadelphia’s newest, most arts-friendly waterfront park (just across Columbus Boulevard from the Festival Bar at FringeArts) to browse books and publications by and about the artists in the 2019 Fringe Festival. Delve deeper into the Curated Fringe Festival shows at a series of intimate conversations and live podcasts with the artists and community partners behind the shows. Learn more here.

Let Me Answer Some Questions: Interview with Joseph Keckler

Posted August 26th, 2019

Joseph Keckler is a multi-talented performer, with an astute comic sensibility and three-octave vocal range. (Just check out his “Shroom Opera“.) For the 2019 Fringe Festival, he brings these talents to Let Me Die, a medley of operatic death arias, interspersed with original music and commentary. The world premiere features a roster of talented singers performing songs and snippets from classic opera, along with

FringeArts talks to Joseph Keckler about his absurd, yet affecting piece.

FringeArts: What inspired  Let Me Die?

Joseph Keckler: I was attracted to the scenes in part because of the paradox they present: often the deaths in opera are the most virtuosic displays. So although these moments depict bodily failure they are in reality great vocal, great physical, feats.

I also noticed people talking about opera, as an art form, in terms of death: “opera is not dead,” etc and was compelled by the idea that seeing opera once functioned as a ‘rehearsal for death.’

I’ve been circling the idea for a while. I’ll talk more about the origin of the show within the show itself.

FringeArts: Other than death, what themes and qualities do you see running through the operatic death scenes?

Joseph Keckler: The scenes are alternately, or sometimes simultaneously sublime and absurd—that’s my jam.

FringeArts: How do you frame the different segments?

Joseph Keckler: I don’t want to give too much away, but as I’m creating the piece I am negotiating interpretation vs. doing, showing vs. telling. I want the piece to be navigable without being overarchingly didactic, and part of what I’m doing in the fragmentation is to pull moments out of their narrative context. I’ll introduce a lot of ideas very directly within the piece.

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