Entertainment & Arts

Bill Clinton opera opens in New York

Bill Clinton
Image caption Bill Clinton has been invited to the show

A folk opera based on a day in the life of the teenage Bill Clinton makes its debut in New York this weekend.

The opera entitled Billy Blythe is the creation of Bonnie Montgomery, who worked on the show with her friend Britt Barber.

It is being performed by the Metropolis Opera Project at the Medicine Show Theatre on Sunday and Monday.

"It was very clear that it was an astonishingly beautiful piece," said Zach James, director of Metropolis.

The name of the show comes from the name of Mr Clinton's father, Bill Blythe, who died three months before the future US president was born.

Mr Clinton later took the surname of his stepfather Roger.

'Southern characters'

The show follows a day in Mr Clinton's life during the summer of 1959 in Hot Springs, Arkansas, with the teenager living with his mother, the late Virginia Clinton Kelley, and the abusive Roger.

"Growing up in Arkansas, I heard a lot of stories about Clinton," said Bonnie Montgomery. "But the real inspiration came when I was reading his autobiography."

Mr Clinton's colourful mother - who loved make-up, gambling and generally having a good time - features strongly in the opera.

"[Bill Clinton's] life story is full of action and exaggerated Southern characters," said Montgomery.

"It's an amazing story that a man can come from where he came from and become the president.

"His personality is mythical and where he came from provides the perfect mythical backdrop."

Montgomery and Zach James say they hope a work such as Billy Blythe will help attract young people to opera.

Montgomery told the former president about her plans for the show in 2009.

He has been invited to attend this weekend, although there has been no indication as to whether he will take up the offer.

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