Eco-Opera On Rethinking State Of The World A Shopping Bag At A Time

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In Monica Raymond and Charles Turner’s mini eco-opera “Paper or Plastic,” the title question is transformed from an everyday inquiry into an elemental decision for a man shopping at the food co-op for the first time since his wife died.

When the “counterculture cashier” asks him, “Paper or plastic,” Raymond explains, he replies, “How can I save the earth? I couldn’t save one woman.”

For Raymond, the half-hour opera, which debuts in a staged singing (not a full production) at noon at the Outside the Box festival’s Spiegeltent on Boston Common at noon today, is about “someone opening up their mind to entirely new possibilities. Their human vulnerability opens them up to doing things in a completely new way. And I’m hoping it will open people in the audience up to that moment where you realize you can do something differently.”

A second performance, sponsored by the Cambridge Arts Council, is planned for the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, 42 Brattle St., Cambridge, at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 18. Both performances are free.

Raymond, who wrote the libretto, is “a long-term green activist and 2013 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellow in dramatic writing” as well as a veteran of “a 10-year experiment in living a carbon neutral life in the Cambridge.” Turner, who wrote the music, is a Danvers resident who has had his choral works performed locally by Tapestry, Musica Sacra, and the Church of the Advent Choir, and “has written music for three previous chamber operas, including one for robots.”

The cast includes singers Teresa Winner-Blume, Jonas Budris, Majie Zeller, and Brian Church accompanied by musicians Todd Brunel, Simon Linn Gerstein, Julie Lee, Chris McClain, Robin Rhodes and Natt Tucker.

This article was originally published on July 17, 2013.

This program aired on July 17, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

Greg Cook Twitter Arts Reporter
Greg Cook was an arts reporter and critic for WBUR's The ARTery.