bare: a pop opera (the title is stylized without capital letters) is the name for an opera which originally opened in Los Angeles in 2000, before opening Off Broadway in 2004. The story follows two gay teenagers struggling with their sexual identity as they attend Catholic Boarding school. While the show was not a runaway success, it has spawned many productions as well as two similar scale revivals: bare the album (a two-disk recording alongside a "Making Of" DVD) and bare the musical, a book musical which revised the plot, making it more focused on the main characters and changing roughly half the music and nearly all the lyrics. Neither of these projects were officially associated with the 2004 run; while the album stayed mostly true to the original script, the original writers were only loosely associated with the musical.

Damon Intrabartalo, who wrote the music, and John Hartmere Jr., who wrote the lyrics and the book, have said they based the opera on their own experiences growing up.

The opera begins with the main character, Peter, having a nightmare about his classmates finding out about his sexuality. After he wakes up, he flirts with his boyfriend Jason before singing about the struggles that come with hiding his identity. The focus then splits between Jason's sister, Nadia - a "Plain Jane Fat Ass" actress hiding behind cynicism to avoid facing her problems - the school flirt, Ivy, as well as Matt, an emo student with an obvious crush on Ivy. The play also features Sister Chantelle, a stereotypical black nun, an unnamed priest, and Peter's mother, who has been avoiding recognizing the obvious signs of her son's sexuality. Most of the action takes place revolving around the school's production of Romeo and Juliet, which all the characters are at the very least tangentially connected to.

The play deals with the heavy subjects of religion, teen pregnancy, teenage rebellion and drug addiction alongside the obvious focus of teenage sexuality and homophobia, but manages to remain heartwarming and funny at the same time. Make no mistake, though - this play is a tragedy. While you may laugh harder than you ever have before, you're almost guaranteed to leave the theater crying.

Still, it's worth seeing if you're able. The album is available on iTunes, and the musical (which is notably different) has bootlegs available online. The opera itself is a somewhat jumpy, touching tragedy which will, at the very least, make you feel.

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