'Billy Blythe,' Opera Based on Life of Bill Clinton, Opens This Weekend

By Philip Trapp on Apr 07, 2016 12:47 AM EDT

Opera Ithaca's production of Billy Blythe, a work based on the early life of President Bill Clinton, makes its world premiere this weekend. 

The presentation is billed as an American folk opera focused on the childhood of the Arkansas native. Painted as a picture of his life in 1959, the play previewed in New York as part of a workshop with Metropolis Opera Project.

As we previously reported, the opera is composed by Arkansas-based singer/songwriter Bonnie Montgomery. In a new report in the Ithaca Journal, the musician shared her connection to the politician, stemming from a young age:

"I first saw him when I was 12 years old in a parade at the county fair -- he was someone that you meet every once in a while, and everyone had some sort of connection with him. ... But when I decided to write the opera, I started thinking how it was amazing that he was born and raised so close to where I was raised, and then he became this global, visionary person."

Clinton is one of the most polarizing figures in American presidential history. From his extramarital affair with Monica Lewinsky and subsequent impeachment to his wife's role as a U.S. senator and secretary of state -- currently in her own bid for the Democratic presidential nomination -- the Clinton name has dominated the political news cycle for nigh on three decades.

The opera is likewise drawing recognition from the national press, both for its subject matter and Montgomery's composition. As highlighted on Opera Ithaca's website, the staging has received notice from multiple news organizations:

"Bonnie's composition of the modern folk opera Billy Blythe, about the childhood of Bill Clinton, previewed in New York, and has earned her the attention of publications such as the New Yorker, the Economist, the Huffington Post and the London Daily Telegraph."

View Opera Ithaca's video promotion for the play below, and be sure to catch one of its four showings this weekend at Ithaca's Kitchen Theatre.

We want to hear from you. Let us know what you think of Opera Ithaca's latest production in the comments below.

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TagsBill Clinton, President Bill Clinton, Opera Ithaca, Bonnie Montgomery

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