When Guns Meet Rosenkavalier
The above is a poor description—Sufjan Stevens has it right—of the closing segment of Guns N' Rosenkavalier, a joyful recital developed by Milwaukee Opera Theatre and its artistic director Jill Anna Ponasik. Wilkowske is a Minnesota native who performs with many national opera companies and just ended a run with the Florentine Opera's Albert Herring. With Ponasik's support, he and new music composer John Glover of New York arranged some of their beloved rock songs as art songs and vice versa.
The consistently innovative Milwaukee Opera Theatre loves to mix classical, pop and avant-garde traditions. Here, songs by Van Halen, Queen, Springsteen and Madonna seemed happy beside Brahms, Faure and Schumann. Wilkowske and Glover even constructed a coherent song cycle from tunes by Schubert, Gnarls Barkley and Lady Gaga. The excellent Genghis Barbie added a perfect four-horn rendition of the Eurythmics' “Sweet Dreams”and a moving account of Kate Bush's “This Woman's Work” played from the four corners of the hall. Piirainen’s solo performance of Radiohead's “Let Down” made the tune timeless.