Candy Corn (2018)

Candy Corn is an opera short in three scenes about a singer and her husband struggling to understand the suicide of a loved one. They play games, go to the beach, and dress in Halloween costumes while confronting memory, technology, and the nature of identity as the story unfolds in reverse chronology.

Candy Corn premiered at The Flea Theater in New York City, November 2-3, 2018.

Music & Story by Jason Cady

Alize Rozsnyai, Soprano
Calder Craig, Baritone
Jason Cady, Modular Synthesizer

recorded and mixed by Jeff Cook

Cady concocts hilarious, dialogue-heavy scenes and stories with sci-fi and horror settings (his CD Happiness Is The Problem, a very contemporary morality tale set in modern day Brooklyn, is worth seeking out). He too performs his electronic score onstage, an uplifting beat-driven soundtrack for his Candy Corn, a story about a plan to live forever through artificial intelligence modelling and overtaking a character’s social medial presence. The plot is anchored by the conversations of his friends (given a comic uneasiness by soprano Alize Rozsnyai and baritone Calder Craig) who seem somehow to be moving backwards in time.

—Kurt Gottschalk, The Wire


The second opera, Candy Corn by Jason Cady, featured singers Alize Rozsnyai and Calder Craig accompanied by the composer, playing the modular synthesizer. A married couple grapple with the suicide death someone they dearly loved. Through extended conversations across several clever scene changes of breakfast-table card games, beach sun-bathing and Halloween party preparations, they travel back in time to the terrible reality of their friend’s death. The synthesizer provides bassline music and chords as well as scene-sounds, such as sea-shore waves; in addition, the singers’ spoken and sung conversations are processed into echoed or reverbed and percussive sounds.

The words of the couple’s conversation reflect marital paradoxes: two people know each other inside out, though an internal core within each remains mysterious to the other. The lyrics, in extended passages, are witty and immediately recognizable as ‘just like real life.’ With no indication of any librettist, the lyrics are presumably, written by the composer. The soul-deep puzzlement in the fact of suicide is keen. Quotidian ordinariness of a card game, beach leisure and fun costumes are contrasted with the terrible mystery of a desired death. Rozsnyai and Craig were a compelling couple, singing and acting with conviction and daring.

— Jean Ballard Terepka, Theater Scene, December 7, 2018

Scene 1, photo by Reuben Radding

Scene 1, photo by Reuben Radding

Scene 2, photo by Reuben Radding

Scene 2, photo by Reuben Radding

Scene 3, photo by Reuben Radding

Scene 3, photo by Reuben Radding

Jason Cady’s Candy Corn was the piece on the program that certainly served Experiments in Opera’s commitment to find “the silly in the serious” in honor of composer Matt Marks. Cady served up a wallop of Millennial Absurdism in this wonderful piece that had the audience in fits of laughter every minute or so. Throughout the opera, Cady was grooving at the synthesizer, treating it like a turn table while bopping his head and keeping an eye on his score. Alize Rozsnyai and Calder Craig—as his protagonists wading through memories of a recently deceased loved one—carried out an incredibly topical score/script and remained stone-faced as they talked (in perfect 4/4 time) about the value of having a church job, disliking Arizona, and the travesty of how there’s “no wifi at the beach.” Costume changes, circular narrative, and Rozsnyai’s deliciously diva performances matched with Craig’s soothing, calm baritone made this almost-too-relatable work radically enjoyable.

Stephanie Ann Boyd, I Care If You Listen