Libretto by Seth Wolitz, Music by Jody J. Nagel
The opera Fifty-Third Street was composed in 1992 and examines the lives of two homeless men on 53rd Street in New York City, between 5th and 6th Avenues, and the reactions toward them from various facets of society, including the church, art institutions, businesses and tourists. The opera was premiered at Sursa Performance Hall on the campus of Ball State University on April 12, 2007 with a subsequent performance on April 15, 2007.
Many composers throughout the centuries have used opera as a way to comment on the world in which they lived and to challenge the status quo: Mozart, Le nozze di Figaro; Verdi, Un ballo in maschera; Berg, Wozzek; Britten, Peter Grimes. Jody Nagel has continued this tradition in a way that is powerful and compelling. Fifty-Third Street offers an invaluable artistic tool for the musical development of students and professionals, for the growth of the American opera repertory, and for challenging the American way of life.