Foxy melodies

Some animals are more equal than others in "A-Morality Cock-tale"

Katrina Wilber

Take a Stravinsky opera, add brand-new music and dance, throw in some sin and you’ve got “A-morality Cock-tale.”

University students, alumni and faculty members have combined forces to create a project that blurs the lines that once separated dance, opera, jazz music and video.

“It’s a multimedia explosion without the actual pyrotechnics,” said Kelly O’Brien of the West Bank Arts Quarter.

Created by School of Music opera director David Walsh, “A-morality Cock-tale” is a two-part examination of sin that incorporates numerous aspects of the performing arts.

The production starts with Igor Stravinsky’s burlesque opera “Le Renard,” a tale of vanity and morality. The high-and-mighty fox wants to teach the selfish rooster a lesson, but the rooster survives, thanks to the interference of the goat and the cat. It explores the concept of morality and who, if anyone, has the right to take the moral high ground and place judgment on others.

A jazz piece by Dean Sorenson called “Foxy” uses “Le Renard” as inspiration, but Sorenson’s music tells the story backwards. It’s a literal reflection of the Stravinsky piece; it carries the plot line from the end to the beginning. Sorenson’s piece also lets the musicians improvise, so each performance will be slightly different.

Because a 15-piece chamber orchestra takes up most of the stage for “Le Renard,” the dancers appear on a video screen during the opera.

Don’t worry about missing a live performance, because the dancers are onstage for the second half.

An ancient Greek poet once wrote: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” While big ideas bounce around this campus daily, “A-morality Cock-tale” is an opportunity to see many of them working together.