New opera screens in Middlebury

MIDDLEBURY — Composer Nico Muhly unveils “Marnie” — his second new opera for the Met with this gripping reimagining of Winston Graham’s novel, set in the 1950s, about a beautiful, mysterious young woman who assumes multiple identities. Director Michael Mayer and his creative team have devised a fast-moving, cinematic world for this exhilarating story of denial and deceit, which also inspired a film by Alfred Hitchcock. Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard sings the enigmatic Marnie, and baritone Christopher Maltman is the man who pursues her — with disastrous results. Robert Spano conducts.
“Marnie” is the tale of a beautiful woman in late-1950s England running from a mysterious past, who assumes a series of new names, identities and physical appearances at every turn. Marnie is finally caught in her deceit by the businessman Mark Rutland, but rather than turn her in, Mark blackmails Marnie into marrying him. As her world begins to shatter, Marnie’s life of lies is stripped bare, and she is forced to face the truth — and her future — without the deceptions on which she has relied for so long. Moving quickly through cinematically structured and designed scenes, Muhly, Wright and Mayer illuminate Marnie’s inner life using a variety of musical textures and literary techniques. One innovation of Muhly’s score is its use of a madrigal-like chorus of four women — Marnie’s Shadows — who follow Marnie throughout the opera, giving voice to her turbulent and confused inner thoughts and feelings as she runs from her past, from her crimes and ultimately from herself.
A new work commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, “Marnie” is a musical-dramatic vision of a troubled character within a flawed society, with both the individual and the social milieu concealing inner turbulence behind sophisticated façades. The libretto unfolds naturalistically, and the music explores the themes set forth in the source material in a direct and often seductively beautiful manner.
Sunday’s screening will begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18. Run time is 2 hours, 29 minutes. A pre-performance talk will be held at 12:15 p.m., led by Jim Pugh in the studio downstairs. Tickets are $24  (+$2 preservation fee) and $10 for students (+1 preservation fee). Tickets may be purchased at townhalltheater.org, by calling (802) 382-9222, at the THT box office or at the door one hour before show time.

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