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Capsule review: Appomattox - the funcrunch files

Oct. 20th, 2007 12:30 pm Capsule review: Appomattox

On October 5 boyziggy and I attended the world premiere of Philip Glass's opera Appomattox at the San Francisco Opera. The setting was the closing days of the Civil War, culminating in the surrender of General Lee to General Grant. Philip Glass is one of Ziggy's favorite composers, but not mine, so it surprised me that some of my favorite parts of the opera were instrumental. The singing didn't appeal to me for the most part, as much was recitative of found text from the period, and not melodically interesting. At least in Doctor Atomic, there was relief with arias set to poetry; in this opera, the soldiers' songs, and one the late chorus numbers, were the only sung music I found engaging.

Though the opera was sung in English, the supertitles were very helpful to understand what was going on. I did appreciate that some of the performers made an attempt to use a Southern accent, no small feat. The costumes were excellent and the sets elaborate, if somewhat macabre, but fitting for the period. I especially enjoyed a scene in which the house where the surrender had just taken place was ransacked down to its very frame. Overall, an interesting and educational night at the opera.


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