In Review: Hoomes directs Nashville Opera’s “Hydrogen Jukebox”

“John Hoomes, Nashville Opera’s artistic director, is presenting a Hydrogen Jukebox that’s about as close to the work’s original intent as one can get. The opera is being staged in its entirety — all 20 numbers contained in two parts — without cuts and, most importantly, without censorship. . .

When the opera was originally staged at the Spoleto Festival in 1990, the six vocalists were dressed as archetypal American characters – waitress, policeman, businessman, cheerleader, priest and mechanic. Hoomes wisely avoided this hackneyed approach, which, among other things, would make the opera’s cast look a little bit too much like the Village People.

Instead, he dressed all three male and three female vocalists the same way, in a jacket, tie and tan slacks, a sort of 1950s Leave It to Beaver look that prevailed when Ginsberg first began publishing his hyperemotional and often explicit verse. Speaking of explicit writing, Hoomes noted that this production would confront all of this opera’s adult themes head on, and it did. However, his treatment of such motifs as gay rights and sexual liberation were artistic and highly stylized.”

Read full review.