Richard and I saw this opera at Manhattan School of Music on 12/13. The music is by Conrad Susa, libretto by Philip Littell, after the novel *Les Liaisons Dangereuses* by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos. It premiered at San Francisco Opera in 1994 - - I saw the PBS telecast and enjoyed it a lot. Not totally brilliant, but worth seeing. I've seen a few things at MSM, so I thought they'd do a good job.
The production was very strong and the opera itself was full of drama, quite effective. The one problem I had with the music is there was too much soaring. Susa doesn't go five minutes without a surge in the orchestra and the singer(s) pouring it out in the top part of the voice. It gets a little wearying after a while, he could have paced things better. But the music is generally beautiful and well crafted, and he certainly knows how to write for the voice. Beautiful text setting, though some of the text was pretty dopey.
A few of the performers stood out. Soprano Anna Dugan had the leading role of the Marquise de Merteiul, the Glenn Close role in the movie, originally played by Frederica von Stade in the opera. She was fantastic, had great noble carriage and a haughty manner, and sang like a dream. She's got the whole package, she's someone to watch. Baritone Timothy Murray was Valmont, the John Malkovich character in the movie, written for Thomas Hampson in the opera. Nice singing and a real presence onstage. Tenor Oliver Sewell was adorable as Danceny, the young man, played by Keanu Reaves in the movie and David Hobson in the original production of the opera. He's cute and has a strong, plangent voice. If he plays his cards right, he could have a career playing all those ardent young tenors in the 19th century repertoire. Nice work if you can get it! The weakest link in the cast was Abigail Shapiro as Madame de Tourvel, the Michelle Pfeiffer role in the movie, written for a just-approaching-the-big-time Renee Fleming in the opera. Shapiro is lovely and gave a good performance, but her singing was a little labored, occasionally coarse.
We had a celebrity sighting in the audience, six-time Tony-winning costume designer William Ivey Long. I wanted to ask him if he thought the skirt on the young girl's skirt was a too short for the period (it was a few inches above the ankle), but I lost my nerve.
Click here to read my review of the 2016 Broadway production of the play: