Ned Rorem: reviews of his operatic Our Town
Ned Rorem's Our Town, the first operatic adaptation of Thornton Wilder's play, was premiered in February.
Ned Rorem’s Our Town, premiered at Indiana University in February, is a successful adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s iconic 1938 drama for the operatic stage. Wilder and his estate had previously turned down all approaches from composers including Copland and Bernstein (though Copland created a score to the film version). The Wilder scholar JD McClatchy succeeded in persuading the estate that Rorem was the ideal composer, and provided a libretto streamlining the full-evening play.
The New York Times applauded Rorem as the best possible choice "and not only because he wrote an intimate chamber opera to match the play’s spareness. Our Town opens with a hymn, and Rorem retained and refracted the familiar melody… as if the music were heard through the lens of nostalgia that turned it sepia…. Deftly matching the character of the play, Rorem’s music is accessible, singable, and full of integrity."
"Rorem’s many songs demonstrate a capacity for wit and intimate expression that serve the 82-year-old composer well in Our Town, his second full-length opera…. Langorous melodic lines or fragments, often with an unmistakable Americana flavour, interact in the orchestra, and the vocal parts engagingly follow suit. If Wilder’s play is to have music, Rorem’s is credible and often exquisite."
Following the Indiana University premiere, Our Town travels around the co-commissioners: Lake George Opera in Saratoga Springs in July, the Aspen Music Festival opening on 29 July, North Carolina School of Arts in February 2007, and Festival Opera in California and Opera Boston in summer 2007.
> Further information on Work: Our Town
Photo: The world premiere production of Our Town at Indiana University (IU Photographic Services)
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