The Hours After

The Hours Stage before

In a word, it was wonderful (a word that the poet Richard has never used in a poem, apparently).

First a word for the assistant conductor, whom I discovered when I read the Additional Credits list. It was Kensho Watanabe, one of the hosts of the Classical Gabfest podcast. Nice to see a friendly name in the credits.

My seats were terrible, as you can see from the pic snapped before the performance. I’m normally very happy with those subscriptions seats, but for a concert performance of an opera (and this was a concert performance, not staged) where the singers are all facing away from me and the percussion is especially loud (which I normally love), these seats were not ideal. Thankfully, the performances was fully titled, so I could read what they were singing even if I could not always hear it.

But I still thoroughly enjoyed it and The Hours went by quickly. Interestingly, the opera was actually more character and plot filled than the movie was, although it didn’t last much longer. That’s because the chorus was multi-functioned, often telling us what the characters were thinking or narrating a bit of the story here and there. So the opera could switch scenes even faster than the movie could. Or blend them, which it did from time to time. And it had a lot more humor than the movie did. As it was also structured quite differently from the movie,  I suspect that librettist Greg Pierce used the book more than the movie as source material.

I don’t think I’m qualified to give a full review of Kevin Puts’s music, but I did enjoy it for the most part. He’s very adaptable, imitating some easy listening music from 1949 when he had to and amassing the full orchestra with gobs of percussion for Virginia’s headache. There were lots of passages in the orchestra that I found quite beautiful. That said, most of what the singers sang was just modern opera-eese to my eras—a bit more heightened than secco recitative but not rising to true lyricism, though there were some attractive passages here and there, especially when the voices blended as the characters and plots intertwined.

The ovation was warm, lively, and enthusiastic. Of course, there was a Standing O, which I didn’t join. It’s not that I disagreed with the sentiment, it’s just that every single concert I’ve been to in the last few years has included a Standing O, so it has pretty much lost its meaning, if it ever had one to begin with.

Don’t mean to end on a sour note. I found the opera much more moving than the movie. For example, Richard’s death, which was staged simply by having the actor walk off the stage and was accompanied by total silence in the orchestra, brought a tear to my eyes. Of course, that total silence was soon shattered when the orchestra began to howl in mourning. I also found the finale, where the three women actually met each other across time and space, strangely moving.

I hope this performance is broadcast, as I’d love to have a copy to get to know the music better.

Oh, and whether intentional or not, naming Laura’s young son Richie was a very nice touch for those of us from the 60s.

The Hours Yannick indicating the three women

The Hours Composer and librettist taking their bows

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