Lauri Bortz / Elliott Sharp – A MODICUM OF PASSION – THE OPERA

Abaton

Jersey City’s Lauri Bortz is a well known playwright and the founder of Abaton, the book and music publishing imprint on which this short opera is released. Set in a future urban America where women have lost most of their power, the plot finds a male couple waiting for their first heir, whose blissful relationship undergoes “complications” with the arrival of Minette, a female infant at first rejected by one of the men. Things change, until the finale.. well I won’t reveal the plot here (unfortunately, the libretto is not included in the CD, but it is available from Abaton). Elliott Sharp’s score calls for the Yellin string quartet and singers Devorah Day, Ben Miller, Eric Mingus and Joan Wasser, and its harmonies are less strident than usual, though you wouldn’t say that while listening to Miller and Mingus’s hopeless, oblique river of symbolic fake grief, the concluding “Here today, gone tomorrow”. Elsewhere, like in the magnificent interlude “Blue by who?”, the New Yorker’s lines are played by the Yellin quartet with sapient sensitivity, a kind of cross between Bela Bartók and post-Schoenbergian bitter indulgence, very pleasant to the ears and not too heavy for the data storage capacity of the brain.

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