Music: Opera Spoofo

What lies beneath the noise and fury of grand opera? Not much, according to Tom Johnson, a Manhattan composer-critic. Johnson, 33, earned his master's degree in music at Yale, and now serves as a music reviewer for New York's Village Voice. "People were always dragging me to the opera," he recalls, "and I always had guilt feelings about not liking it. Also, I wondered what all those singers were really thinking about during their 200th-or-so performance of the same piece."

The eventual result: Johnson decided to write an hour-long opera that spoofs opera. He...

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