Opera In...An Underground Swimming Pool?

Dec 9, 2013

Philadelphia is recognized nationally for being on the cutting edge of non-traditional opera staging. Now, on the heels of acclaimed offerings from the city's largest company, comes a new work from a smaller presenter that is literally taking the opera art form...underground.

Beneath Philadelphia's Fairmount Water Works is the Kelly swimming pool. Abandoned in 1972 after being inundated by a hurricane, it sits just a few feet above waters of the Schuylkill River with just a few inches of concrete protecting it from further flooding. 

This is the location for TRIBUTARIES: A Modern Cantata, a multi-media musical production by the recently founded Agave Opera Company. The work explores how water shapes our lives, and the location, says Agave Director Craig Hendrix, is integral to the production.

A four act cantata, with each act inspired by the distinct characteristics of the "Manatawny," "Tulpehocken," "Maiden," and "Schuylkill," TRIBUTARIES features solo and ensemble vocal performances, and an octet of diverse musicians.

Hendrix’s co-creators are the Philadelphia film composers Will and Brooke Blair. Will Blair says they had to do very little practically with the space to make it work as a concert venue. 

A one-time-only performance of TRIBUTARIES: A Modern Cantata takes place at the Kelly Pool at the Fairmount Water Works in Philadelphia on Saturday, December 14, 4 to 6 pm.