Nashville Opera’s production of David Lang’s post-modern The Difficulty of Crossing a Field was such a big success last year that the company has decided to make avant-garde opera a regular feature of its season.
Nashville Opera’s next operatic experiment explores the mysteries of the human brain in Michael Nyman’s The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (8 p.m. Nov. 8-9 and 2 p.m. Nov. 10 at Noah Liff). The work takes its humorous title from famed British-American neurologist Oliver Sacks’ best-selling book of the same name.
The opera focuses on the life of a certain Dr. P., a brilliant classical singer who suffers from a rare condition called visual agnosia. His brain is able to absorb a seemingly infinite amount of visual detail, but it can’t process any of this information into a coherent whole. So like a real-life Mr. Magoo, he makes absurd errors, like mistaking his wife’s head for a, well, you know. This production, like Difficulty, will be presented in an intimate black-box theater setting at the company’s Noah Liff Opera Center.
I write about the opera in this week’s Nashville Scene Fall Preview, and you can listen to one of the opera’s most affecting arias, “The River,” here. The Scene’s other outstanding fall previews on theater, music, visual arts, books, etc., are well worth reading.