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The price is right: New Philip Glass opera to be streamed online

Christopher Purves as Walt Disney in Philip Glass’s opera The Perfect American.

EPA

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.

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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.

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James More

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