Saturday, January 28, 2012

Rave Review for Butterfly's Trouble

Having just put on 2 different productions in NYC, I have not had the energy to look for any reviews.
Low and behold, a rave review on Theatre Mania!
And now the cat's out of the bag - Butterfly's Trouble is about revolution. From the review: "...while the plot still evokes tears it seems a bit shallow and faded these days. This new version by Ray Luedeke  breathes new life into the Puccini work as a real piece of theater, and may mark the direction for opera to take as a living art form in the coming century."

The reviewer divined my perspective and my purpose exactly. I could care less about saving or  resuscitating the body of repertoire commonly associated with opera: Verdi, Mozart, Wagner, et al. As theatre, they stopped working long ago. Rather I'm interested in the use of music to enhance and support the drama. As a composer, I am interested in the possibilities of the genre called opera and not in the repertoire commonly called opera. 

And so I reworked Puccini. I fixed the dramaturgical problems that were capable of being fixed. Through the use of a chamber group (carefully orchestrated) and of spoken dialogue, I made sure that the drama and all the nuances of the drama (in English) could be understood. 

Not 15 minutes from my NYC apartment is the Metropolitan Opera. For me, this particular emporer has no clothes. The Met has a budget that runs in the hundreds of millions, while mine is simply in the hundreds. Nevertheless, watch out, Metropolitan Opera!

(Proviso! Friend Bob, don't take offence. I'm sure your job is secure, and I do dearly love those Met tickets you sometimes have for me.)


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Art of Love / Beware of Friends

The Bergmann Piano Duo is absolutely wonderful! Musically and personally. Do check out the selections from their Merkin Hall show:
The Art of Love / Into the Labyrinth with visuals by Ron Hurwitz happens about 3 minutes into the  video. I've had both positive feedback and negative feedback from friends regarding the combination of music, words, and video. Myself, I think that one needs a different mental perspective in order to accept the almost equal importance of the 3 elements.

Beware of the advice of friends. Witness Anton Bruckner's Symphony #7. This hour++ work includes exactly one crash of the cymbals. It occurs in the middle of the opus, by which time the cymbals player has likely fallen asleep. This one note for cymbals was added by Bruckner on the advice of friends. How un-necessary, not to say expensive.  At each performance, the weary string players, who have millions of notes, must be beside themselves with envy - if they are even aware of that one cymbal crash.

So, please send your opinions - but beware! I am leary of repeating Bruckner's mistake.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Butterfly's Trouble on the road

Great show! Wonderful twist on Madama Butterfly! That's the feedback from the off-off Broadway premiere of Butterfly's Trouble at the 45th Street Theatre. See for yourself:
OK, the video is slightly out of focus - I accidently hit the wrong button on my camcorder. Still, it seems like the perfect show for touring. Essentially, it's Madama Butterfly with an interesting, creative twist and for only 7 performers.

Attending the show, we had at least a couple of representatives from each of the three major arts presenters organizations holding conferences in New York that week, APAP and ISPA and CMA. After the show I had people lining up to tell me how much they enjoyed it.

So why are we still not signed up for a tour? I need feedback. Here are a few possibilities:
  • It's great, but it will never sell in Peoria
  • The word adaptation is box office poison
  • The word opera is box office poison
  • It's too long (2 hours)
  • It's too expensive (No it isn't)
  • It has an unhappy ending (suicide)
  • It has an unhappy beginning (suicide)
  • B. F. Pinkerton is not a nice man
  • Cho-Cho-San is not a good mother (She tells her son that she is killing herself "for his sake")
Am I giving up? No way! Why?
  • I'm a stubborn German? (actually half Austrian)
  • I have money to burn?
Real reasons:
  • Good music (even Puccini) is worth fighting for
  • I believe in the concept of music theatre embodied (or invented) in Butterfly's Trouble
I will consider all advice, commentary, and criticism (both constrictive and destructive)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Butterfly's Trouble tonight and tomorrow in NYC

As happens with shows such as ours, they keep getting better and better. Hope you can attend.
Butterfly's Trouble tonight at 8:00 at the 45th Street Theatre NYC. And by the way, Art of Love at Merkin Hall last night with the Bergmann Piano Duo was fabulous.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Bergmann Piano Duo and the Art of Love

Tomorrow Jan. 9 at 8 PM the Bergmann Piano Duo and actor Charles Murray will perform The Art of Love / Into the Labyrinth at Merkin Concert Hall in New York. Pardon me if this composer beats his own drum, but it is not to be missed. The Bergmanns are absolutely great and my music, thanks to them and to Charles Murray, is serious where it should be serious and funny where it should be funny and sexy where it should be sexy. Don't miss it!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Butterfly's Trouble opening night on Broadway

I'm so pleased! Butterfly's Trouble is listed in Time Out New York under Theater off-off-Broadway (not under opera and not under classical music) and under Best Bets. Reason 1: I want to appeal to a general theater audience. Reason 2: Butterfly's Trouble is something new - not quite opera and not quite musical theater. It uses music and the voice to enhance a drama. We have wonderful singers, but this is not really about their wonderful voices, but rather about a total theater experience.
Facebook Friends, do come to our show:

1. Butterfly's Trouble at the 45th Street Theatre 354 W 45th St.
Puccini’s masterpiece, Madama Butterfly, is transformed from grand opera to intimate music-theatre:Blending Puccini's opera with David Belasco's play, Madame Butterfly.
 Ray Luedeke's English Language adaptation uses just 2 singers, one actor, and four instrumentalists  to stunning effect.
    • Sat., Jan. 7, 8:00
    • Sun, Jan. 8, 2:00
    • Tuesday, Jan. 10, 8:00
    • Wed., Jan. 11, 2:00 & 8:00
    • Thurs., Jan. 12, 8:00
    • Fri., Jan. 13, 8:00
Order tickets at:
    • or Tel 866-811-4111

2. The Art of Love / Into the Labyrinth at Merkin Concert Hall 129 W 67th St.
a world premiere multi-media event featuring Ray Luedeke's original, virtuosic score for two pianos, Ronald Hurwitz's riveting visuals, shot in Paris, and a text adapted from a manual banned for two thousand years, Ovid's the Art of Love. The performers are the internationally famous Bergmann Piano Duo and actor Charles Murray And more - a first half featuring music for two pianos by Ligeti, Bolcom, and Bergmann.
    • Monday, Jan. 9 at 8:00 PM
Order Tickets at:
Tel 212-501-3300

For more information visit:

Happy New Year,

Ray & Dulce

Ray Luedeke
Voice Afire Pocket Opera and Cabaret
tel 646-370-4802
cell 646-639-4216

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Butterfly's Competition

Be warned! Butterfly's Trouble has competition - on the same Broadway block and around the corner.
Better buy a ticket before Jan. 7 and before you are tempted.
First temptation is (or was) Harry Potter (actually, Daniel Radcliife) starring in How To Succeed in Business - only a half block away. For the moment, Harry is out of town. Whew!
Then there is Daniel Rickman in Seminar - same street, different block!
And gentlemen please avoid this (around the corner):
Luckily for our Jan. 9 show, The Art of Love, at Merkin Hall on 67th St., the only competition is at Lincoln Center, just around the corner.

Should we have booked The Art of Love at The Gentlemen's Club?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Opening Night and E Blasts

This Saturday, Jan. 7 at 8 PM is opening night (runs Jan. 7-13) for Butterfly's Trouble at the 45th Street Theatre. This coming Monday, Jan. 9 at 8 PM is opening (and closing) night for The Art of Love at Merkin Concert Hall.

My director, Heidi Lauren Duke, says to me, "Are you doing E blasts?" I say, "Isn't that Spam?"
She says, "Try Constant Contact".

Here's the dilemma: Everybody zaps Email without opening it. To get around this problem, we have Facebook and Linkedin, etc. But for these sites, spam is a horrific crime, punishable by ostracism.
OK But how do I let people know that I have shows that they really should see/hear?

True confessions: I have turned into an E blaster. And I use enticing titles.
For instance I used the title "Trouble at ISPA (ISPA is International Society for the Performing Arts, holding a conference here in NYC next week and of course, Trouble refers to Butterfly's Trouble, my show.

Clever, Eh? Ha, Ha, right? Wrong! The title (heading) got some of the ISPA people to actually take a look at the email. Boy were they pissed - tricked into opening an email announcing an event they should attend - they are arts presenters, after all. There were angry messages to the president of ISPA. And I have been warned - but with a smile - the President understood my little joke.

So next title is "Butterfly's at ISPA".  What do you think?

By the way, for tickets to Butterfly's Trouble and to The Art of Love try my website:

Consider yourself E blasted!