Libby Larsen

Libby Larsen’s “Barnum’s Bird,” a chamber opera about Jenny Lind, the superstar soprano “Swedish nightingale” and P.T. Barnum, who launched her on a 150-performance U.S. tour, will receive a staged reading at Circle in the Square Theatre in New York City on Thurs. Oct. 31.

Larsen describes her work as a means to ponder

our culture’s dilemma: what is art, what is entertainment? … The story of Jenny Lind, a hardheaded businesswoman and a world-class artist, and P. T. Barnum, an equally hardheaded businessman and a world-class showman, is a compelling musical drama. It is also an extraordinary vehicle to gain insight into ourselves as lovers of art and consumers of entertainment.

Details about the performance, are given here (and sorry about the pop-ups and video-ads) — the cast includes vocal soloists as well as a chorus and eight instrumentalists.

Larsen is a renowned and prolific composer (the description of her as the Joyce Carol Oates of music, in this engaging and insightful interview, is a reference to her vast output) and we are sorry we can’t get to NYC to experience “Barnum’s Bird.” It sounds like a rich and provocative way to spend an Oct. 31 — Larsen is also known as a “music philosopher.