Pluto: The Opera | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Pluto: The Opera 

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No, it's not successful. And it's not well done. But it's not to be dismissed, either. Too often Idris Goodwin's hip-hop history of "Pluto"--aka Chicago--comes across like a pageant at a progressive middle school. Director Tony Sancho's game but incoherent cast performs ten vignettes from the life of the city, starting with the arrival of menacing Frenchmen in the 1700s and culminating with a present-day mayoral debate. Along the way we see Pluto as a depot on the underground railway, a magnet for immigrants, etc. The politics are Pilsen-mural subtle, but Goodwin plays them out in interesting ways--keeping the French offstage, for instance, so we experience their menace exclusively through the behavior of the Indians. Similarly, his libretto resists the music, turning Pluto: The Opera into an epic rap recitative. The piece may fail, but it marks Goodwin as an inventive talent in progress.

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