Robert Ashley

Ashley: Perfect Lives

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Available on CD and videotape, Perfect Lives is part of a trilogy of operas for TV, including Atalanta (Acts of God) and Now Eleanor's Idea. A total of 39 half-hour episodes, Perfect Lives was realized for Channel Four of British television. In this epic work set in the American Midwest, the rhythms of the music, the geometry of the scenes, and the relations of the characters all seem to be cut from the same cloth, as if being described by the martyred first natural scientist Giordano Bruno, who is a background character never appearing in this work. For the characters who do appear, this is the basic plot: "Raoul de Noget (No-zhay), a singer, and his friend, Buddy, 'The World's Greatest Piano Player,' have come to a small town in the Midwest to entertain at the Perfect Lives Lounge. For some unexplained reason, they have fallen in with two people from the town, Isolde ('nearing 30 and not yet spoken for') and her brother 'D,' just out of high school and known as 'The Captain of the Football Team' (his parents call him Donnie), to commit the perfect crime, a metaphor for something philosophical: in this case, to remove a sizable amount of money from The Bank for one day (one day only) and 'let the whole world know it was missing.'" The seven episodes are "The Park (Privacy Rules)," "The Supermarket (Famous People)," "The Bank (Victimless Crime)," "The Bar (Differences)," "The Living Room (The Solutions)," "The Church (After the Fact)," and "The Backyard (T'Be Continued)." "Perfect Lives is nothing less than the first American opera" (Allan Evans, Fanfare). The opera, taken as a whole, is a giant metaphor for the rebirth of the soul.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 24:53
2 25:08

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 24:48
2 24:45
blue highlight denotes track pick