Buick City, 1:00 AM tells the story of Elena, a woman from the present day who travels back in time to 1984 to prevent the unsolved murder of her father, an autoworker in Flint, Michigan. All of the characters in Elena’s life, including her mother, brother, and uncle become suspects in this tangled Rust-Belt soap opera as the storylines extend and tighten around each other. By the end of the story the fateful hour of the murder arrives and Elena fights to change the course of her life.
Buick City, 1:00 AM includes realistic sounds recorded on location that establish the setting, in addition to more abstract sound design. Original songs, in between the scenes of dialogue, comment on the story as it unfolds. The songs—composed in a variety of styles—feature opera and pop singers, and a unique instrumentation of modular synthesizer, pedal steel guitar, piano, bass, and drum-set.
The Flint Water Crisis is emblematic of the city’s precipitous decline reaching back to the 1980’s. But before that, Flint, known as “Vehicle City,” produced more cars than any other city in the US. Though Flint brought the American Dream to the working class, it was also one of the first cities to perish under the shifting winds of the global economy and quickly came to represent the death of upward mobility and community stability. It is into this splintering city that Elena arrives, encountering a family in crisis who are grasping for some way to take back control of their lives.
This isn’t the first time that EiO has pushed the boundaries of what opera can be. Check out these two past experiments to see what is possible.