One is a funny playwright, the other a composer of somber operas. What might result from their artistic pairing? Well, a funny opera about the somber ritual of tashlich, “The Festival of Regrets.”
The creation of playwright Wendy Wasserstein and New York City Opera composer-in-residence Deborah Drattell, “The Festival of Regrets” marks the High Holiday ritual when Jews symbolically throw their sins—crumbs—into a body of water. This rendition gathers a cast of stereotypically Jewish characters—a divorced woman and her hen-pecking mother (“You had a bad year; you tried a shrink; you tried a facial.”); the middle-aged ex-husband “searching for meaning”; the assimilated teenage boy ignorant of the rituals he witnesses. At times mournful, at times sarcastically funny, this musical collaboration of two Jewish women takes a surprising turn for the redemptive.
“The Festival of Regrets” is Act One of a three-act opera, “Central Park.” The opera premiered in July at Glimmerglass Opera (where Drattell’s “Lilith” premiered last summer) and opened in November at the New York City Opera. It will air nationally on PBS’ Great Performances on January 19. Check local listings.