“In its second collaboration with the Lyric, [Second City] has tapped into a richly comic vein of pure Rhine gold. The show features Jesse Case as composer, sound designer and music director. But best of all he also plays the role of the wildly narcissistic, obsessive, decidedly kinky Richard Wagner - and nails the portrayal on every count.”- The Chicago Sun-Times
“Jesse Case, who composed the original music, plays a mean grand piano and he’s as comfortable with classics as well as Nationwide jingles, the Harry Potter theme, and Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’. He’s also the glue around which several plots and seven actor/singers pivot. The show is an excellent primer for the uninitiated.” - Third Coast Review
After the success of The Second City Guide To The Opera, it was only a matter of time before Second City and Lyric Opera of Chicago collaborated again - and this time the show focused in on the manic, controversial, often-ridiculous life and works of Richard Wagner. Featuring seven original songs and a hefty sampling of Wagner’s music, the intricate 90-minute plot revolves around the composer’s fictional great-grandson Fred, whose life spirals out of control as he attempts to direct Wagner’s 15-hour magnum opus The Ring Cycle.
In addition to sound design and original composition, I portray Richard Wagner in the show, and perform all the original music as well as all of the Wagner (and various other bits of classical music) live from a piano onstage.
Wagner’s music, The Ring Cycle in particular, is known for its use of leitmotifs - small recurring bits of music that indicate characters and objects and themes. So the original music in the show liberally quotes from these, as well as themes from other Wagner operas. As an example, the chorus of “Silk” - performed in the video above - is a variation on the Venusberg chorus in Tannhauser, a musical reference that three people found totally hilarious.