"Late Victorians" is a great piece about a terrible thing. It is a sonic essay commemorating the losses of the AIDS plague in late 80's San Francisco. Composer Adamo evokes this in a theatrical collage of spoken word, operatic poetry, and bittersweet music. The narrative voice, based on Richard Rodriguez's essays, carries the tone of his spare, wise, sad clarity. Hardwon, wounded, a stark certainty come to from quiet, persistent, painful shifts. Stripped down to life and death, each moment becomes an epiphany, each memory a parting gift. Andrew Sullivan deftly narrates in harmony alongside soprano Emily Pulley, who instills melodic ease into unflinching lines from Emily Dickenson. Pulley in particular delivers a delicate balancing act of operatic beauty, witty phrasing, and topical modernity.
"Regina Coeli", adapted from Adamo's "Four Angels" concerto, brings Mother Mary into heaven. The sad ascendence of the strings blossoms into gossamer wonder by harpist Dotian Levalier. "Overture to Lysistrata" compresses his "Lysistrata" opera into three movements: the dramatic first driven and restless, a tumbling wind through every corner; the second lyrical and passionate, romantic in the sense of idealism; and the third a complex tonal strobe running fiercely. From his world-famed "Little Women" opera, Adamo streamlines "Alcott Music" into three character movements for orchestral voicing. Rich in the personalities of their character namesakes, they are a joy to the ear. A fine overview of an important new composer.
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