“I am going to reach out and touch you,“ bellows Martha Graham Cracker the famously “tallest and hairiest drag queen in the world”. And too close she certainly gets to many in the audience who by the end of Opera Philadelphia’s Queens of the Night: Dito and Aeneas have been shaken by a “terrible case of the 4th wall.“ Perhaps the most playful and outrageous set piece of this opera’s company’s 11-day  festival which challenges boundaries, this show upsets expectations, and achieves a whole new level of integration of opera into the contemporary urban landscape.

Queens of the Night: Dito and Aeneas. All images courtesy of Opera Philadelphia

Staged in a rock club, the Theater for Living Arts on the city’s famous South Street, Queens quite literally brings opera straight to the bar, and answers audience’s perennial wonder of what it must be like to just hang out with opera stars when they are having the most fun after the show at the piano bar. This three-night cabaret “ Ring cycle of drag, tenors and rock & roll” is in no way lacking in mythic chops, here cleverly filled in by audience participation. Inventive visual puns were...

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