Composer Scott King and librettist Christopher St. John have been friends and collaborators for over 25 years. They’ve been developing Gayland since 2013, when it had its initial performances at the New Orleans Fringe Festival and attracted large crowds and enthusiastic notices from the local press.
Their previous project was a humorous opera set in the world of pharmaceutical marketing, called Oomph!. They spent 7 years developing it, with the help of a workshop production in 2008 at St. Gregory’s Church in San Francisco, and then two full-scale concert-style productions at the Marigny Opera House in New Orleans in March 2012. Check out this music video of the popular Oomph! number, “The Holy Cash Cow Lives.”
Prior to Oomph!, King and St. John spent several years creating an innovative new oratorio of the Passions found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In this piece, each of the Gospels is sung by a soloist. So when two or more of the gospels are in sync, you can hear it, and when they are in disagreement, you can hear that as well. (Almost inevitably, this work has become quite popular among the students at the many seminaries in the San Francisco Bay Area.) Click here to see and hear a sample of how this “total transparency” version of the Gospels works.
Earlier collaborations by St. John and King include An Urban Alphabet, with snarky, modern double quatrains for each letter of the alphabet written by St. John set to a wide variety of musical styles by King. And also a stint in a music group called Shema, creating and performing raps based on ancient liturgical texts, including the eponymous Shema prayer.