Perfect Lives Jersey City

Perfect Lives Jersey City

Saturday, September 19, 2015 @ 11:00am-11:30pm

Con Vivo Music and Art House Productions present:
Perfect Lives Jersey City

An opera by Robert Ashley
Arranged and performed by Varispeed with Con Vivo Music
Saturday, September 19, 2015
A FREE Day-Long Music Event

In a small Midwest town, two traveling musicians and two local siblings hatch a plan to take all the money from the Bank across state lines to Indiana for one day and then bring it back, thus performing the perfect crime… or a work of art. Originally released in the 1980s as episodes of a music-based BBC television show, Perfect Lives is Robert Ashley’s quirky, energetic, and philosophical modern opera, adapted anew by Varispeed and narrated by the band and guest musicians. Its seven episodes weave the intersecting stories of people in the American Midwest, centered around a mysterious crime, an elopement, and the mischief of two itinerant musicians.

Ashley, a major figure of post-war American composition, has written almost exclusively in a style of spoken-word opera that he defines as uniquely American. He uses the everyday expressions of the region to create a poetic mix of the quotidian with the lofty. The text is delivered by a primary narrator, using rhythmically precise speech, and is supplemented by an interjecting backing chorus.

Our performance will take place in seven 30-minute episodes at seven Jersey City venues throughout one day. We invite you to journey with us from location to location and re-imagine the big city as a folksy town where the bank tellers know the captain of the football team and everyone drinks together at the end of the night. Before each episode we will recap the story so far. Between episodes you are encouraged to visit the All About Downtown Festival and open houses at our partner organizations. Explore the schedule below for details.

PLEASE NOTE: There is no seating at the PARK and SUPERMARKET episodes and there is limited seating at the BANK episode. There are a few instances of discrete coarse language in the BANK, SUPERMARKET, CHURCH, and LIVING ROOM episodes.

Event Schedule

Download our PDF program (right-click, select download): Perfect Lives Jersey City program and map

CVM Perfect Lives Jersey City map
Click the image to view full size.

Saturday, September 19, 2015
11:00-11:30am THE PARK
All About Downtown Street Fair stage (242 Bay St)

Raoul de Noget, a traveling singer sits on the bed in a motel room overlooking a park, thinking it over.

1:30-2:00pm THE BANK
Provident Bank (239 Washington St)

Isolde, Raoul and Buddy sneakily draw attention to the fact that The Elopers have taken all the money in the bank.

Key Food (574 Jersey Ave)

Thinking about consumerism and wearing out, Helen and John (The Oldsters) are shopping on their day off.

4:00-4:45pm – Art House open house and tours
Art House Productions (136 Magnolia Avenue)

5:00-5:30pm THE CHURCH
St Paul Lutheran Church (440 Hoboken Ave)

Having traveled to Indiana, The Elopers find an odd Justice of the Peace, but his words contain more than they bargained for.

6:15-7:00pm – Goat petting and refreshments
The Historic Jersey City & Harsimus Cemetery (435 Newark Ave)

7:00-7:30pm THE BACKYARD
The Historic Jersey City & Harsimus Cemetery (435 Newark Ave)

Watching a picnic from the doorway of her mother’s house, Isolde counts the days.

8:15–9:00pm – Barrow Mansion tours
Barrow Mansion (83 Wayne Street)

9:00-9:30pm THE LIVING ROOM
Barrow Mansion (83 Wayne Street)

At his wife, Ida’s prompting, Will, the local sheriff, goes over the events of the day.

11:00-11:30pm THE BAR
Brightside Tavern (141 Bright St)

Rodney, the bartender, meets his match: the silver-tongued piano player, Buddy.

11:30pm – afterparty and blues/jazz jam sesion!
Brightside Tavern (141 Bright St)


Varispeed (Brian McCorkle, Paul Pinto, Gelsey Bell, Dave Ruder, Aliza Simons)
with Jen Baker (trombone), Zach Herchen (saxophone), Jenny Yum (violin), Sean Cunningham (violin), Michael Davis (viola), Meghan Burke (cello), Esha Datta (chorus), Meredyth Morrison (chorus), Chris Ellmann (chorus), Marcus Jordan (chorus), Mike Sperone (percussion), Woody Leslie (tabla)

Art House Productions




Remco Press





Barrow Mansion logo clean





Sponsored By: Remco Press and The Barrow Mansion Development Corporation

A huge thanks to Helen Yi for designing our program/map!

Photo credit: Courtesy of Mathew Pokoik and Mt. Tremper Arts

This program is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, administered by the Hudson County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, Thomas A. DeGise, County Executive, and the Board of Chosen Freeholders.