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A tricky brief for both librettist and composer: to create an opera more discursive of ideas than action-led, which is told retrospectively by the main character. Mary Zimmerman wrote the libretto in collaboration with Glass and Arnold Weinstein and it’s a success. It is superbly enunciated by the cast on this recording from Portland Opera, and manages to be intellectually interesting and complex without bludgeoning the listener, and at the same time to give some narrative structure to the piece, the lack of obvious action notwithstanding. Glass’s music I find less engaging. It has the air of a well-oiled machine, rolling along with no problems but no risk: business as usual. Anne Manson’s conducting is accomplished and the 10 scenes delineated as well as possible, but ultimately it’s a wash of sound rather than emotionally vivid. Among a solid cast, Richard Troxell is an excellent Galileo, his voice true and honest, and he makes much of the role. I’m less keen on Lindsay Ohse’s squally Maria Celeste, her melismata akin to wailing.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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