Contemporary American Opera

Listen / Download

Contemporary American opera sounds like an oxymoron more than a musical category nowadays. John Harbison’s opera the Great Gatsby was a short-lived event last year. This season, you won’t hear one living composer or an American at the MET, with a program that’s still heavy with Puccini, Mozart and Wagner. And still, there’s a diversity of indomitable composers out there testing themselves in the marriage of words, music and drama.

New work has some familiar titles: The Cabaret performer William Bolcom is trying his hand at an operatic production of Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge”; the conductor and pop pianist Andre Previn is writing music for “A Streetcar Named Desire”; and the composer Lewis Spratlan won a Pulitzer this year for “Life is a Dream,” a fantasy opera he’s never been able to get into full production till now. Is this a new beginning for American opera? Or is the fat lady getting ready to sing.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Lewis Spratlan