05 Dec 2005

An American Tragedy — Three Reviews

THE METROPOLITAN OPERA: The American author Theodore Dreiser published An American Tragedy in 1925 and it quickly became a classic. Based on a true story of a man who was found guilty of murdering the woman who was carrying his baby, while he was simultaneously pursuing another woman of a higher social class, Dreiser’s novel tells the story of a mid-western preacher’s son who tasted a little sophistication on his way to death in the electric chair.

The book also inspired the film A Place in the Sun with Montgomery Clift, Shelley Winters and Elizabeth Taylor. Tobias Picker (whose previous operas include Emmeline, seen in New York in 1998, and Therese Raquin) and his librettist Gene Scheer have distilled the long novel into a fast-moving drama, with lyrical arias and sharply-etched portraits of the Griffiths family – especially of Clyde and the two women he falls for.

[Click here for additional information.]

An American Tragedy - Metropolitan Opera New York
By Martin Bernheimer [Financial Times, 5 December 2005]

The Metropolitan Opera is celebrated for many things. Producing new works is not one of them. This company, after all, coddles a notoriously conservative public, subsists essentially on private funding, and wants to sell 4,000 tickets a performance. Still, adventure does rear its head occasionally. In 1999, the Met mustered the premiere of John Harbison's The Great Gatsby. On Friday Tobias Picker's An American Tragedy joined the lonely ranks.

[Click here for remainder of article.]

Dreiser's Chilling Tale of Ambition and Its Price
By ANTHONY TOMMASINI [NY Times, 5 December 2005]

For a company of such international standing, the Metropolitan Opera has had an inexcusably timid record of commissioning operas in recent decades. Consequently, when the Met presents a new work, the stakes are almost impossibly high.

[Click here for remainder of article.]

Good Singing, and a Few Cliches

By JAY NORDLINGER [NY Sun, 5 December 2005]

The Metropolitan Opera gave a premiere on Friday night, of a work it commissioned: "An American Tragedy," by Tobias Picker. This opera is probably not destined to enter any canon, but it is competent, not uninteresting, and worthy of consideration.

[Click here for remainder of article.]