Friday, May 24, 2024

Joseph Keckler performs “I am an Opera” in 2013, as seen on Vimeo.

In the most famous operas, villains are stabbed, lovers die and suicides ensue; innocents are accused of murdering their brother; murderers become tsar and face peasant revolts; a musician travels to the underworld on a mission. In Joseph Keckler’s “I am an Opera,” too many shrooms are consumed; more money than is sensible is spent at a bondage shop; he sits down in the office stairwell and falls asleep.

The highlights of Keckler’s work, including plenty from that long-running show, appear in his “Self-Portrait as an Opera,” with otherwise banal tales sung in soaring German, Italian and French – Keckler is a classically trained bass baritone with a multi-octave voice – with supertitles appearing on a screen overhead. That makes it a legitimately operatic experience that is both laugh-aloud funny, occasionally poignant and genuinely thought-provoking about the nature of opera itself, as well as about storytelling; these are the tales that most of us thrill to tell on ourselves, which make them the stories that matter.

(“It may seem absurd, but it’s a song about sacrifice,” Keckler told Hyperallergic’s Geraldine Visco in 2013, referring to his epic recounting of the goth retail experience.)

As an extension of his semi-retired show, “Self-Portrait as an Opera” is “part satire, part self-portrait and part aesthetic exorcism,” Keckler has said, and while it has autobiographical elements, it also explores how different kinds of media and art relate. (He is a singer, musician and visual artist who also published a book of stories, “Dragon at the Edge of a Flat World: Portraits and Revelations,” in November.)

Keckler, a New Yorker whose work has been seen from Centre Pompidou in Paris to the South by Southwest music festival, appears as part of the ongoing Glowberon season from 8 to 10 p.m. Thursday at Oberon, 2 Arrow St., Harvard Square. Tickets are $25.

This post was updated to April 2, 2018, to correct that Keckler will perform “Self-Portrait as an Opera” rather than “I am an Opera.”