meet a winning operaplotter–Daniel John Kelley!

It was like Christmas in springtime or watching an online Oscar ceremony (only more entertaining). Today, the winners of the 2010 Operaplot contest selected by tenor Jonas Kauffman were announced on The Omniscient Mussel and regaled on Twitter, of course, and many other places in cyberspace.
This was an enormous mini-contest celebrating not the masterplot but the microplot–only 140 characters with “#operaplot” included! More than 900 entries representing 200+ different operas had to be read, sorted, alphabetized, and categorized, etc., at Tweetning-fast speed. Entries had to submitted last Friday. The final complement of winners were announced today.
(“Miss Mussel can move mountains”; “Miss Mussel for president,” the masses clamor.)

Browsing through the alphabetized entries is the most healthy, cognitive fun I’ve had in a year! Thank you, Miss Mussel, and thank you, contestants for oodles of operatically-themed entertainment. I think everyone who entered is a winner.                  

A 2010 Operaplot winner--Daniel John Kelley


Since I’m a student of creative writing, I saw a kindred creative-arts spirit among the winners’ circle announced today, playwright Daniel John Kelley, creator of the children’s theatre series Monster Literature, and invited him to be a guest on “opera-toonity.”                  

Here is Daniel’s prize-winning #operaplot, which he Tweeted using his sardonic Twitter identity @FunWithIago:      

So I wrote this guy this EPIC love letter & he’s like “No thanks”, but now I’m married & rich & he’s all “OMG I LURV U!!” WTF? [Eugene Onegin]                  

Pretty clever, eh?

Earlier today, I dashed off my questions, and Daniel responded with gusto and good grace for your reading pleasure.                  

Daniel, is this the first time you’ve entered #operaplot?
Nope. I was part of the contest last year, but didn’t win anything at all.

How many entries did you submit to #operaplot 2010?
I entered 4 this year.                   

Did you have a favorite–yours or anyone else’s?
I thought Brian Rosen’s Oedipus Rex rap #operaplot was brilliant. Probably made more brilliant by the fact that he recorded it:                  

(I agree that Brian’s rap was an inspired effort. You have to listen to the recorded version.)                  

How much time did you spend coming up with entries?
Mostly it was at my day job and on the subway, so probably like twenty minutes each.                   

Do you have a favorite opera?
 I love Verdi’s Otello– I have like 14 recordings of it. For me, as an opera, it’s the perfect combination of music and drama. I feel like the music really does a great job of psychologically following the characters in each scene, and I find it to be one of the most powerful works in the canon.  But I also feel bad saying it’s my favorite, considering the lead role is still done in blackface all over the world. I can’t invite people to see it with me who don’t know the opera or are familiar with opera, because all they see is a man in blackface and they’re like “Dude, WTF?” Understandably. I read that the UK had their first black Otello…last year. I don’t know that there’s ever been one in New York. If folks want to bring opera into a new century (like maybe the 20th century?), forget twitter, let’s start with that.                   

Iago, from San Francisco Opera's Otello, 2009


How did you arrive at your Twitter username, @FunWithIago? Funwithiago has been my internet handle forever– it used to be my livejournal name when people did such a thing. It’s from the villain in Shakespeare Othello (and Verdi’s opera). His name is hardly synonymous with “fun”, given how things end up for him and everyone else in the play, and fourteen-year-old me thought that was hilarious.                   

How long have you been Twittering? Why did you start Tweeting?  I started tweeting late last year. Actually, my dad (@rpmkel) got me into it. I was like, “This looks stupid.” And then I did it, and found the great opera and theatre communities on twitter. And it was awesome.                   

Thanks Daniel, and congratulations on your selection for a top prize! Oh, and if you interview Daniel, he sends his answers already hyperlinked. What a cyberhip and accommodating guy!                  

To find out what prize he selected, visit  “The Omniscient Mussel” website and view the official winners here, including the Operaplot Side Pot winners.                  

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