The opera, a 90-minute linear amble from the High Line’s 14th Street entrance to its West 34th Street terminus, is in content, tone, and setting, about transition: the changing time of day, evolving domestic duties, and the shifting character of New York itself. Audience members are encouraged to walk slowly and weave their ways between the groups of singers, each belting out—or whispering, or chanting—their specific role on loop, unfolding the full experience for guests as they move forward.
With each performer cloaked in white light from a luminescent hat, smartphone, backpack, or other piece of everyday wear, the experience can feel at times dreamlike. But the surrounding sounds of the city, walls of new development around the High Line, and Hudson Yards’ looming presence on 34th Street ground the performers in a material setting.
Gentrification is not explicitly the Mile-Long Opera’s purview, but, as Diller recently relayed to the New York Times, the changes in the Meatpacking District (some caused by the High Line itself) are highlighted as wistful background threads. The mingling of old and new construction along the park with song lyrics about friends moving away, the L Train shutdown, and passing strangers on the street, are meant to make the audience consider