Review By Merlin Patterson,Fanfare,November 2012
Robert Aldridge’s Elmer Gantry is, for me, the operatic discovery of the year. Musically expressive, dramatically engaging, and emotionally moving, the work is an opera for those who do not like opera, yet it never panders to those who may not have an appreciation for the genre. Conductor William Boggs leads a cast headed by baritone Keith Phares and mezzo-soprano Patricia Risley in a resplendent production. © 2012 Fanfare
Review By Robert Levine,ClassicsToday.com,July 2012
You’ll find arias, duets, and ensembles—forms familiar from centuries of opera—all lyrical and well-structured. There’s an echt-American sound to Aldridge’s music, and while I can’t pinpoint exact moments where the likes of Copland and Floyd pop up, the harmonies have that wide-open feel that are immediately recognizable.
Review By Christopher Ballantine,Opera,May 2012
This superbly crafted, irresistibly enjoyable work strikes me as poised to take its place among the finest operas to have emerged from the US…The performances are wonderfully vivid: without exception, they’re vibrant, exceedingly lively and strongly sung…As the Grammy suggests, the recording is marvellously engineered—an achievement that seems greater when one remembers that it was captured ‘live’. © 2012 Opera
Review By Göran Forsling,MusicWeb International,April 2012
Dramatically it is tautly constructed and, I believe, well conceived for the stage. It works well also as a listening experience and with the libretto printed in the booklet it is easy to follow the unfolding of the story. A strongly contributing factor is the music. This is music-drama at its best with Sharon’s solo marvellously beautiful and the duet that follows is a stroke of genius.
Review By Fernando Remiro,Ritmo,April 2012
El último gran lanzamiento operístico de Naxos es un apasionante recorrido por la música estadounidense, una genuina reflexión sobre la religión popular y un signo de la buena salud de la ópera actual norteamericana. Pero ante todo Elmer Gantry es una excelente ópera, un proyecto mimado, acariciado desde los 90 por Robert Aldridge y su colega, aquí como libretista, H. Garfein, que adapta con maestría el explosivo clásico de S. Lewis (llevado al cine por el gran R. Brooks). Estrenada en 2007 en Nashville, nos llega esta grabación en directo de la exitosa gira posterior.
Review By Chris Mullins,Opera Today,March 2012
…there is much to commend in the work of Aldridge and Garfein. In particular, Aldridge finds ways to use creative orchestration to give momentum and a sense of variety to a score that mostly builds upon the comparatively unsophisticated sounds of gospel music. There are hints of Copland from time to time, or perhaps one of Virgil Thompson’s documentary film scores.
The Naxos recording, made before an enthusiastic live audience, benefits from the strong leadership of conductor William Boggs over the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Florentine Opera Chorus.
Review By Joshua Rosenblum,Opera News,January 2012
Keith Phares is bold, invigorating and ingratiating in the role. …Patricia Risley makes a radiant impression in her introductory aria and successfully maintains this lofty standard.
Tenor Frank Kelley…does a marvelous job with the tour-de-force Act I curtain number… The Florentine Opera Chorus and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra perform exuberantly under conductor William Boggs… © 2012 Opera News Read complete review
Review By Ken Smith,Gramophone,December 2011
I’d give my opera-loving friends this prime contender for the mantle of All-American Opera, where a virile baritone, a mercurial mezzo and a fiery and somewhat strident tenor meet various choruses of school fight songs and syncopated gospel hymns. For once, an all-American story rendered operatically in purely American terms.
Review By Ken Smith ,Gramophone,November 2011
The success of Elmer Gantry isn’t a tribute merely to the fact that composer Robert Aldridge and librettist Herschel Garfein have found an all-American story but that they’ve rendered it operatically in purely American terms. Garfein’s text, by turns funny and poignant…clarifies the story. Aldridge’s music invites without pandering, deftly shading emotions at every turn. Choruses erupt in school fight songs and gospel hymns with infectiously syncopated hand-clapping. The music is through-composed yet fully of a piece with its setting—‘charged’ but without smacking of either musical theatre or operatic avant-garde.
Review By Record Geijutsu,November 2011
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