AN INTRODUCTION AND ORIENTATION
by Michael Ching (Composer and Librettist)
based on a concept by Dean Anthony
SPEED DATING TONIGHT! is what I call a "new numbers opera." Much of traditional opera is based on musical numbers: arias, duets, ensembles, finales. SpDT! is similarly structured but with some twists. First connecting material such as recitative is minimized. As for the songs and ensembles themselves, most of the material is not gendered and not limited to one vocal type. Even the order of the pieces is up to the producer. The cast needn't be based on a 50/50 gender balance. (It doesn't need to be binary either.) In the over 120 productions the smallest cast has been four and the largest around fifty. The goal is to have one hundred options, with the idea being that you use only the material you want for your cast. Currently there are 94 options--I count a true duet as two options, for example, but a piece with only a couple of response lines, counts as one option.
The opera starts and ends with a frame and premise that isn't varied. At a local pub, the bartender (B), server (M), Dating Coordinator (S or M), and busboy (mute or any voice) get ready for the event and greet the daters as they enter. We are introduced to two nervous characters ("I could just die") and Dater #22 (B). He's got a singing birthday card. The actual speed dating starts and the show ends when everyone has had their song, duet, or trio. There are a few subplots to hold the show together. The finale starts with the server commenting in a Brechtian manner about the event ("Daters are a lot like singers"). Dater #22, a failure so far, gives it one more try, and in a parody of the Pappageno/Pappagena duet, finally finds his true love, a fellow cell phone addict. The daters exit and the bartender and server decide to go have a coffee. Alone, the busboy, dances with their broom.
So, the traditional show requires:
Quinn, Bartender, baritone
Stephanie, Server, mezzo
Kaylee, the Dating Coordinator, soprano or mezzo
Busboy, mute or any voice type (can be cut entirely)
Your group of daters, number completely variable
Since the first production commissioned, produced, and directed by Dean Anthony at the Janiec Opera of the Brevard Music Center, SpDT! has been done over a hundred times. The episodic, inclusive structure of the opera proved very useful during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-2021. Brevard commissioned a ZOOM SPEED DATING TONIGHT! which is essentially the same show, but one that concentrates on the daters, de-emphasizing the bar milieu.
HOW TO STUDY FOR A PRODUCTION
DOWNLOAD THE PIANO VOCAL PERUSAL SCORE. On the right hand side of this blog, there is a link for a free download for a perusal score. I try to keep it up to date within a few months--remember new pieces are getting written all the time.
Then you should probably watch a video. Remember, the order of the pieces isn't ever the order in the piano vocal score, so don't try to follow along with the music.
WATCH A VIDEO... WHICH VIDEO?