Company XIV: Boldly Going Where Opera Doth Not Go

By James Monroe Števko

The conductor drops his baton on the downbeat of the overture; out flies the red velvet curtain.

Enter soprano.

Sing aria.

Enter ballet.


Simple enough; another night of “Aida,” maybe, or “William Tell.”

Not with Company XIV.

The current trend of making the classical arts relevant has artists everywhere reinventing revered works and Company XIV has successfully outwitted the New York City underground market.

Founded by Juilliard graduate Austin McCormick in 2006, the company is a fusion of baroque opera and sensual, Berlin cabaret. But, let’s not kid ourselves, because we all know what Strauss’s opening “Rosenkavalier” scene is. Or how about “Don Giovanni’s” one thousand and three Spaniards…hmmmm?

So bringing the sex to the stage in scenes perhaps as imagined by our favorite opera characters themselves, is this corseted and codpiece clad cast.

McCormick, a specialist in Baroque dance and Met Opera choreographer having made his debut this winter in “Rusalka,” twists together an evening of spectacle, comedy, and humor, in settings that are works of art themselves. Plush velvet, rococo love seats, ice buckets of bubbly and under a glass chandelier; you’ll know first hand the entertainment preferences of French royalty.

One oft-appearing spectacle is high-flying soprano, Marcy Richardson. The classically trained singer from famed Indiana University found her niche in coupling classical voice and aerial work, muscling through hoops and slinking around stripper poles to bel canto versions of Sia’s “Chandelier” or most recently at the Slipper Room “Royals” by Lorde.

The current Company XIV engagement at the Slipper Room runs four more performances until August 27. Following this fall is yet to be announced in a new Bushwick venue, that will no doubt be another sensory experience.
Last winter was the portrayal of the Greek myth of Paris and his Golden Apple which followed 2015’s wildly received departure from the family Christmas tradition, “The Nutcracker,” renamed “Nutcracker Rouge,” receiving praise from the New York Times and Huffington Post.

“Paris!” brought to the forefront of one of opera’s most questionable sexual oddities. Handel favorites “Lascia ch’Io pianga” and “Venti turbini,” sung by countertenor Randall Scotting, perfectly harkening to the era’s revered castrati. And what better place to ponder on opera history’s perverse, gender-bending practice in the dark den of Company XIV’s debauchery.

Check out, as it boasts of perks for subscribers of the upcoming season. You might find yourself nestled against lover, coyly taking in this sinful, majestic revelry.