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Lynn Nottage Is Adapting 'Intimate Apparel' As An Opera For The Met

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act March 17, 2013 at 8:59PM

Lynn Nottage Is Adapting 'Intimate Apparel' As An Opera For The Met
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Intimate Apparel
Pulitzer playwright Lynn Nottage is writing an opera for the Met with composer Ricky Ian Gordon . Cool.@Lynnbrooklyn @publicdoves @MetOpera


Walked into my apartment a little bit ago, and just as I turned on my laptop, the above tweet (a retweet by Lynn Nottage) popped up on the bottom-right of my screen. Thank goodness for that, because, a second later, and I would've missed it!

Needless to say, I did some research, and came across a press release on The Metropolitan Opera's website, dated February 26 (we obviously missed the initial announcement a few weeks ago). But yes, per the press release, Ms Nottage is indeed working on an adaptation of her critically-acclaimed play, Intimate Apparel, as an opera for the Met, with multiple award-winning composer Ricky Ian Gordon, who has composed several operas and had his music performed by the likes of S&A favorite, Audra McDonald, and many others.

Intimate Apparel follows an African American seamstress in turn of the century New York, in pursuit of a better life, through a letter-writing relationship with a laborer working on the Panama Canal, and through her interactions with a cross section of New York City.

The play had its world premiere at Center Stage in February 2003, eventually making its New York debut off-Broadway, running from March to June, 2004, with a cast that was led by Viola Davis, in a performance that won her a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play.

The play won the 2004 Steinberg New Play Award, presented by The American Theatre Critics Association. The award recognizes playwrights for the best scripts that premiered professionally outside New York City in any given year.

And the accolades certainly don't stop there...

I haven't seen the play, so I can't offer any valuable insight on it, nor discuss how it might translate to the Opera stage. But it IS a Lynn Nottage work after all (By The Way, Meet Vera Stark & Ruined), and an opera adaptation (with an accomplished composer) is most definitely intriguing, and something you should certainly pay attention to.

We obviously will, and will continue to report any worthwhile developments on the project.

Who knows... we might eventually report that the play (or the opera) is being adapted for the big screen. It won't be the first time - recall in 2010 when it was first announced that her Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Ruined, would be adapted to film by HBO Films and Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions, with Oprah starring as Mama Nadi, the shrewd business woman who owns the brothel/bar where much of the play takes place. No movement on that adaptation though - nothing that we're aware of, anyway.

Intimate Apparel, the opera, will be one of 26 works featured during The Met’s 2013-14 season, so we should see it sometime in the next 12 months.


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