There is a curious, though little-noticed aspect, to the reports that come out of performances of new American operas. As with political candidates who are always winning (to hear them tell it) until the very instant they absolutely must concede, the mood emanating from first performances and new productions of contemporary American works is always determinedly upbeat. In the case of each new opera, we are told that the audience loved it; that the cast and orchestra applauded the composer with real enthusiasm; that the critics thrilled to the sound of their own praise; that this time at least the cause of new native opera really has a winner. Unfortunately, time and time again over the last twenty-five years, the love of the audience, the applause of the performers, the thrill of the critics, and the operas themselves are forgotten. And after every disappointment the cycle starts up again with the same...


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