This opera about lust makes the Gowanus sexier than ever

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The Gowanus Canal has never been sexier.

For two weekends this month, a 17th-century opera about love, seduction and lust among the Greek gods comes to the banks of the polluted waterway.

“It’s pretty much a bedroom comedy of the gods,” said Judith Barnes, artistic director of Vertical Player Repertory, which stages the Italian opera, “La Calisto,” from July 8 to 16 at Proteus Gowanus.

Since the bed is a central theme of the opera, it’ll be the main stage piece of Francesco Cavalli’s production, which follows Jove’s seduction of the virginal mortal Calisto by disguising himself as the virgin goddess Diana. He succeeds, but poor Calisto doesn’t make out so well, turned into a bear by Jove’s jealous wife, Juno.

“The opera itself is a very light and comic take on this transformation story,” said Barnes.

In addition to the lovely sopranos and baritones, a live baroque ensemble will fill the courtyard with music during the opera’s two-week run at the outdoor space.

“I’ve loved that space for years,” said Barnes. “There’s fire escapes along the side for the gods to descend from the heavens, windows for spies to peak out of, and alleyways for amorous dalliance.”

Sounds like a match made in heaven.

“La Calisto” at Proteus Gowanus [543 Union St. at Nevins Street in Gowanus, (718) 243-1572], July 8, 10, 14 and 16 at 8 pm. Tickets $30. For info, visit

Updated 5:24 pm, July 9, 2018
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