Leave Your James At Home

Converting a descriptively punctuated work of Henry James into an opera isn’t an easy task. But the Dallas Opera likes a challenge, and so it commissioned Dominick Argento’s Aspern Papers and presented them at the Fair Park Music Hall back in 1988. The overall reaction was: Great opera, so long as you forget it was based on James. That’s sensible advice to chew over as TDO blows the dust off of Aspern again, 25 years later. In his writing, James uses weighty prose to direct your imagination. In opera, we don’t have the luxury that accompanies subtlety. Instead we have bold, flailing limbs; trembling screams; and obvious signs of love and love lost. The two cannot coexist successfully. Go forget all of your fancy Henry James book learning before this Aspern Papers begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Winspear (2403 Flora St.), or you’ll publicly whine about the continuity between the text and that opera you just saw, and some stranger will deservedly punch you in face for being an artsy-fartsy whiny sissy baby. Then, everyone will applaud. Consider yourself warned. Tickets range from $19 to $129. Visit dallasopera.org.
Fri., April 12, 2013
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Jamie Laughlin
Contact: Jamie Laughlin