On November 19, NPR features a broadcast of Mark Adamo’s most recent opera, Lysistrata. For those who have forgotten about Aristophanes, the original farce from 411 BC is about war and women, two subjects that are in the forefront of the news today. In Lysistrata, the women protest the ongoing war by going on a sexual strike with their partners – definitely a ‘Make Love Not War’ idea! Adamo, who wrote his own libretto, adapted the antique framework to a full-length, two and a half hour opera. The piece was premiered in Houston in March 2005, and will be presented by the New York City Opera in the Spring with a brand new overture to boot. The dates are March 21, 15, 31 and April 2 and 5, 1006. At NYCO, Lysistrata will be conducted by George Manahan and directed by Michael Kahn, and will feature soprano Emily Pulley and Chad Shelton in the leading roles.

Upcoming on December 2nd, the Metropolitan Opera is presenting the premiere of Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy. The libretto by Gene Scheer is based on the groundbreaking 1925 novel by Theodore Dreiser about what was later dubbed as ‘the crime of the century’, the real life story of a young man who killed his poor, pregnant girlfriend to get a shot at a better life with a rich girl. It is interesting that the emotional ground for the opera is a thriller, although the public may be nearly immune to the impact of any crime, as the proliferation of cop stories has made the subject rather mundane: all I have to do is turn on the television and on a daily basis, I can see crime scene experts dissecting cadavers. But this is a good, tried-and-true subject: this very same novel was the inspiration for the 1951 movie A Place in the Sun, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift. Tobias Picker was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, and this is his fourth opera after Emmeline (1996), Fantastic Mr. Fox (1998), and Thérèse Raquin (2001).

Well, opera is not dead after all. That’s a comforting thought. My only regret is that there is only one new opera premiere each for the New York City Opera and the Metropolitan Opera for the 2005-2006 season.

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