I enjoyed this work much more than I was expecting. I have been a fan of Mr. Adams' instrumental/orchestral work for some time now but in general his operas have been more of a difficult sell for me. I find that when it comes to vocal composition, I crave much more of a tonal center than what I look for in instrumental music. That said I have enjoyed some of the arias from Nixon in China or Doctor Atomic but certainly not as much as those from more "traditional" operas.

While the same could be said about the arias and vocal lines in A Flowering Tree, I found Mr. Adams to be much more willing to write, for lack of a better phrase, a more "beautiful" melody when the story line called for it. The story itself was strange and wonderful and beautiful, with a timeless oddity that could only come from 2000 year-old folklore. An the staging itself was so unique, with the performances of the main characters being divided between vocalists who would sing the parts and Indonesian dancers who would "emote" them. And yet at any given time the vocalists as well as the dancers would supply the acting, so the lines would be blurred as to who was the actual character. In addition, the vocalists would minimally interact with their own dancer "psyches", blurring those lines even further.

It was a treat to see Mr. Adams himself conductig his own opera; I thought that this lent a sense of intimacy to the piece that one simply doesn't find at the Met. In addition the orchestra itself was located on the stage which only served to heighten that sense of closeness.

All in all a very enjoyable eveing and an intriguing opera!
Posted on 15 Aug 2009, 12:48 PM