It makes sense that an offbeat director such as Peter Greenaway (The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, Prospero's Books) would be attracted to a project such as 4 American Composers, a 1983 British television special profiling John Cage, Meredith Monk, Philip Glass, and Robert Ashley, four U.S. musical artists who haven't been content simply to entertain, but feel compelled to "push the envelope" of music. This episode chronicles the work and career of the distinguished composer Robert Ashley, an innovator of opera who has worked to make it American in subject matter and idiom, writing opera for television. Greenaway here provides viewers with performances excerpted from Ashley's seven-part television opera Perfect Lives. The opera was co-produced by Britain's Channel Four television network in August of 1983.
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