Madrid’s Teatro Real hosted the world premiere of Philip Glass’s latest opera, The Perfect American, a couple of weeks ago, but thanks to the miracle of the Web, you don’t have to book a flight to the Spanish capital to see it.
The opera, Glass’s 24th, is being streamed live for free online and in English on www.medici.tv, starting Wednesday at 2 p.m.
The perfect American in question is none other than Walt Disney, but here he’s far from the avuncular figure of myth: Based on Peter Jungk’s scabrous 2001 novel of the same name, Glass’s Walt, portrayed by British baritone Christopher Purves, is something of a racist, anti-Semite and misogynist.
Directed by Phelim McDermott, who helmed Glass’s Gandhi bio-opera Satyagraha at New York’s Metropolitan Opera in 2008, the opera recounts the final days of the panicked creator of Mickey Mouse (Illinois-born, he died of cancer at 65 in 1966) as he is visited in his Burbank, Calif., hospital room by family and associates, Andy Warhol among them.
Reviews have been mixed – the Los Angeles Times was ecstatic, The New York Times, not so much – yet for the online audience, the price is surely just right.