André Previn: Brief Encounterby Elizabeth Futral
The opera is based on the film Brief Encounter,/i>/i>
Andre Previn's second opera, Brief Encounter, was recorded live at the Houston Grand Opera, which commissioned the work, during the opera’s premiere performances. This recording, features Patrick Summers leading a starry cast including Nathan Gunn, Elizabeth Futral, Kim Josephson, and Meredith Arwady.
The opera is based on the film Brief Encounter, with a screenplay by Noël Coward and David Lean, which was based on Coward’s play, Still Life. The British director John Caird was given the job of turning Coward's prose into an opera libretto and, as he recounts, faced a number of difficult questions in the process: "Are the words comfortable in the singers' voices? Do the top notes have sympathetic vowel sounds? Can the phrases be achieved in a single breath or must they be broken up?"
In addition, Caird and Previn made a few significant changes to the scenario so that the opera could work on stage more effectively, most notably enhancing the character of Laura's husband, Fred, and changing the locations, for practical reasons, of some of Laura and Alec's encounters.
For the score, Previn references many of his major influences, and one can hear subtle allusions to British, Russian, and even film music. The Wall Street Journal noted: "Mr. Previn's lush, tonal score supplies a new dimension to this tale, giving a voice to the yearnings of Laura, the ordinary woman who is suddenly catapulted into extraordinary feelings." The scenes change quickly and with them Previn's musical language has the ability to deftly shift from one style to another and gently guide the audience through this tale of suppressed passion and desire.
[Previn's] great talent as a composer is to catch you unawares. In 'Brief Encounter,' he hooks you with a melody, turns it on its side and moves on, measure after measure feeling like a brief but significant encounter. The opera will last. [Los Angeles Times] -- From the Label
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