Long Beach Opera Presents “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” at the EXPO Arts Center

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Professional singer and music professor Dr. P tries to shake hands with a parking meter and describes a rose as “a convoluted red form with a linear green attachment.” A man who sees, but does not see, Dr. P suffers from visual agnosia. Unable to recognize objects and faces (including his wife’s), he finds a way to make sense of his world through music.

LBO goes site-specific again with four performances of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat between June 16 and June 24, 2012 at the EXPO Arts Center in Long Beach, CA.

This neurological opera (The Hat, for short) is based on an actual case study in the 1985 book of the same name, written by renowned neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks. British minimalist composer Michael Nyman, best known for his score to Jane Campion’s film The Piano, saw operatic possibilities in the story.

Dr. Sacks states, “The real hero in The Hat is surely music – the power of music to organize and integrate, to knit or re-knit a shattered world into sense… opera turns out to be the perfect medium: the theme seems pre-ordained for the form.”

Known for being theatrically creative, fearless and illuminating, director David Schweizer is equally at home in Los Angeles and New York. Previous LBO projects include Henze’s Elegy for Young Lovers (1996), Pena’s adaptation of Purcell’s La Indian Queen (1998), Adès’ Powder Her Face (2001) and the world premiere of Vivaldi’s Motezuma (2009).

Schweizer has been eager to take on the story of Dr. P for many years and recalls, “I was totally fascinated by Dr. Sacks’ book when it came out in the 80’s and dreamed then of somehow shaping the material as theater.” He adds, “Michael Nyman’s rhapsodic score brings a heartbreaking immediacy to this story of a brilliant mind gone mysteriously awry. The piece has everything – deeply felt emotions, humor, and a haunting portrait of the fine line between mental illness and genius. Plus the intimacy of it, just three characters, affords a kind of behavioral detail that is not often seen on opera stages. I hope that audiences will really feel what these people are going through and what they discover.”

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat Opera composed by Michael Nyman based on Dr. Oliver Sacks’ 1985 case study of the same name about a man with dementia who uses classical music to recognize objects. (In English with English supertitles)

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat runs Sat. June 16 at 8:00 pm (sold out) Sun. June 17 at 7:00 pm (added performance) Sun. June 24 at 2:00 pm (sold out) Sun. June 24 at 7:00 pm (sold out) at The Expo Arts Center, 4321 Atlantic Ave., LB, CA 90807.

Pre-opera talks one hour before performance times.

Tickets are $29 – $150. Purchase from the LBO Box Office at 562-432-5934 or www.longbeachopera.org/tickets. Group discounts through the Box Office.

As a prelude to The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat, on June 10, 2012 at the Art Theatre of Long Beach, 2025 E 4th Street, 2:30 – 5pm, Long Beach Opera presents psychiatrist Dr. Kenneth Wells, UCLA Professor of  Psychology, in “Journey into the Human Mind“.  Dr. Wells will lead a discussion of the strange tricks the mind can play, how music is interpreted by the brain, and and music’s healing powers.

Long Beach Opera (LBO) is internationally known for cutting-edge interpretations of unconventional repertory. LBO creates immediate, inventive and often boldly avant-garde productions for an adventurous audience and stands apart from most other companies in the number of world, American, and West Coast premieres it has staged. Founded in 1979, LBO is one of the largest professional opera organizations in Southern California and the oldest in the Los Angeles/Orange County region. LBO’s performance history includes more than 90 operas ranging from the earliest works of the 17th century to new operas of the 21st.

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