Upstart Opera Company Has Big Plans

Trey Daugherty, the upstart impresario behind an experimental two-person opera adaptation of Nikolai Gogol's short story "Diary of a Madman" at the Neighborhood Center in Fourth and Gill earlier this month, already has plans for more work from his avant-garde company Opera Consort.

"In February we're planning to do a one-woman opera by the French neo-romantic composer Francis Poulenc based on a play by Jean Cocteau," Daugherty says. "La voix humaine is an opera that centers around a woman on the phone with her ex-lover. The design is going to create staging that looks like a black-and-white French film brought to life."

Details of the production—cast, dates, location—are still in the works. A production of John Cage's 1991 small-ensemble piece Europera V is also planned for the spring, and Daugherty says he hopes to follow that later in 2012 with a full production of his own opera adaptation of James Agee's A Death in the Family; a one-person adaptation of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood; and "an existential staging" of a Mozart work.

Daugherty, 23, studied composition in college (his senior recital was his original production of A Death in the Family). He is now the organist at First Christian Church and music director for the Tennessee Valley Players community theater troupe.

Daugherty says he is confident that Knoxville concertgoers will appreciate Opera Consort's effort to bring 20th-century (and later) music to the city.

"I really think Knoxville has an audience for the fusion of indie/avant-garde music and contemporary classical," Daugherty says.

About 30 people showed up for the one-hour presentation of Diary of a Madman on Friday, Nov. 4. The production consisted of Daugherty, sitting at a desk under a random sequence of projected images, singing the text of Gogol's story, about a 19th-century Russian clerk's descent into incoherence and madness over the course of several weeks, from start to finish, accompanied by an improv piano performance by Daugherty's brother, Justin.