It’s no surprise, then, that the Bible story of life and death, suffering and loss would be so well-suited to opera, said Don Harris, the creator of the stage production Job: A Postmodern Opera of Biblical Proportions.
The show – or at least, portions of it – will be staged at Augusta’s Kroc Center on March 10.
That’s because Job: A Postmodern Opera is an opera that’s more than 30 years in the making and seven years into active production.
Harris and his wife, Suzanne, who wrote the music for the original production, have performed the opera in various venues around Augusta during the past several years, including the 2008 Westobou Festival and 2011 Arts in the Heart of Augusta.
This upcoming show is their first fully costumed production, featuring a 16-member cast and 21-piece orchestra.
The style is eclectic, with new and old songs set to blues, pop, country and classical melodies.
The opera features performances by Greg Hatfield as Job; Pamela Bowman as Job’s wife; Matthew Peters as Elihu; and Bill Juras as God.
The full opera is scheduled to be released in November after a final fundraising push. Each performance costs $3,000 to $4,000, depending on venue costs and the orchestra.
It’ll cost about $25,000 to show the final opera several times this fall.
“When we do it, we don’t want to do it for one night,” Don Harris said. “We want to have a good run.”
The full, final production has been a long time coming, said Harris, who works by day at Powerserve, a software development firm in Augusta, and attends Lakemont Presbyterian Church with Suzanne.
“I started working on the lyrics for what would become the opera about 30 years ago” in an attempt to restructure the poetry in Job into modern, singable songs, he said. “I didn’t pull it out until about seven years ago. I went and took it to my wife and told her I had written an opera.”
Harris had the lyrics, but not the music or choreography he would need to stage the show.
“She started to write the most beautiful music I had ever heard,” he said.
Suzanne and Henry Johnson completed the music, and Peter Powlus choreographed the show.
At the Kroc Center next week, audiences can expect to see more than an hour of both the most popular and never-before-performed selections.
“Each performance is a little bit different,” Harris said. “We’ve tried very hard to make sure we tell a complete story.”
Harris hopes audiences walk away from the show with a new perspective on Job.
“I’ve been studying the story of Job and the various intricacies for quite some time,” he said. “This suffering is something everyone relates to. When people are suffering, it connects us. It unites us at a base level of our humanity. We try to use these performances to promote that mind-set of unity.”