Nico Muhly, Composer; Nicholas Wright, Librettist; Directed by Michael Mayer; Conductor, Robert Spano.
The Metropolitan Opera in New York, to its credit, has become a steadfast supporter of new operas, engaging in patronage and risk in the name of the advancement of young composers and the establishment of new repertoire, an obvious investment in the art’s future relevance and endurance. This is certainly how things should be. Last season saw the Met premier of Thomas Adès’ TheExterminating Angel. Several seasons earlier Adès’ The Tempest, based on Shakespeare, saw its debut at the Met. In the greater narrative of contemporary culture, it’s easy to forget that opera began as a popular art form, and that the rock stars of an earlier day were the composers and vocalists of the opera world. It remains a mere cultural stereotype that opera should be regarded as an elite art for intellectuals and people with money. We need think only of the likes of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, for example, to find everything a popular art is and should be, an opera whose musical entertainment value and dramatic power brings us to the core of the popular and sublime all at once. [Read more…]