Positions 1956

Music by Conrad Cummings
Lyrics by Michael Korie

Positions 1956  is a 90-minute chamber opera in three acts. Each act is based on 1950s instructional manuals. In “Act One: Marriage Manual,” a newlywed couple grapples with the positions in marriage how-to books. In “Act Two: Physique,” the husband and trainer practice fitness positions from muscle magazines.  In “Act Three: Social Dancing,” the couple works on marriage through dances from Arthur Murray manuals.  Act One premiered in 1988 at PS 122 in New York. The full opera premiered in 2012 at Washington D.C.’s Urban Arias company, directed by Noah Himmelstein, conducted by Robert Wood, featuring Jesse Blumberg, Amedee Moore and Vale Rideout.


Positions 1956 showcases two mature professionals at the top of their game, completely at ease in the world of new opera, with a work that is funny, musically accessible, and emotionally stirring… Korie kicks into a new gear in his writing, as he moves from clever risque into crafting wonderful riffs in his rhyming that work on several levels.  He plays with bigger social and political themes and makes us recognize certain American traits of character… I left with a feeling that I had seen something very special indeed.  This is what theatre and certainly opera should be but rarely is.”

— Susan Galbraith, DC Theatre Scene.com, April 17, 2012

“This is very much a libretto-driven opera…The lyrics by Korie are masterful.  There are moments of great poignancy and also some hilarious touches.  Positions 1956 is a good work that deserves more performances in coming years.

–Scott Pender, MyBigGayEars.com, April 21, 2012

“It is an amusing piece given substance by some tender and some keen, rueful moments… The imagery often proved potent.”

–Andrew Porter, The New Yorker, May 16, 1988