So, for your first opera, you’ve written the libretto and the music, designed the sets and the costumes, and you’re singing in public for the first time. Nervous?
I’m pretty calm, considering. This is not a Western opera, or a Chinese opera, or an opera that has any clear sense of timing or anything. But all great operas need a simple story that everybody knows. So I’m playing myself as the Little Prince, very abstractly. He goes around visiting different planets.
What characters does he meet?
Actually I’ve cast my parents in this. They are coming. My father’s character is based on Godot, from the Beckett play. And my mother is going to play Anna Karenina, but as a prostitute from Alphaville, the Godard film. She doesn’t know that yet.
When will you tell your mother that you’ve cast her as a prostitute?
I don’t think she’ll find out (laughs). I’m going to be singing in my own [invented] language, so there will be English translations flashing above for the audience to see to see. But she won’t know what the words are.
What is the story of The Little Prince about for you?
It’s about the loneliness of individuality. About being trapped in a desert. So the opera is a tragedy.
For the score, you’ve composed music for piano using only the white keys. What does it sound like?
It’s not melodic. I composed the music only based on how pretty the notes look on the page. I don’t read music at all.
You’ve been living in Paris for the past few weeks while preparing for the show. What’s your life like here?
I’ve been a hermit, completely. I’ve experienced Paris by staying in my apartment and reading books about Paris. And watching Godard movies and Truffaut movies. I haven’t really been to good restaurants— I eat boiled eggs at home, and make soup.
You did make it to the front row of Rick Owens show on Friday.
The clothes were amazing, weren’t they? Like origami. I wanted everything.
Photos: courtesy of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac.