David Carlson, Anna Karenina,
David Carlson’s opera Anna Karenina to a libretto by Colin Graham, which premiered at the Florida Grand Opera three weeks after Graham’s death in April, could serve as an epitaph for an illustrious career. As a project originally conceived for Benjamin Britten, it reflects Graham’s service to that composer’s operas as a producer and to new opera generally. Anna’s current venue at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis crowns his long association there as artistic director. And as an opera based on Tolstoy, it recalls one of his greatest productions, Prokofiev’s War and Peace for the English National Opera in London. [...]
Carlson underlies the dialogue with a Janácek-like orchestral tapestry of inventive motivic content that proves capable of blossoming into expansive lyrical pieces. And his gift for expressive melody deepens scenes such as the moving one in which Anna lies near death while her husband Karenin and Vronsky almost patch up their differences. Some will be concerned that his highly polished neo-romantic score, excellently realised here under Stewart Robertson, largely turns its back on anything modernistic. But perhaps the real problem with Anna Karenina is that it moves too fast for its own good. Without a more detailed psychological picture of Anna, you’re left wondering whether her suicide under a locomotive is the only answer to her problems.
Heidi Waleson, Two New Operas, Two Troubled Heroines (Wall Street Journal, June 14)
Lew Prince, From Russia, with Deepest Sympathy (Riverfront Times, June 6)
Sarah Bryan Miller, OTSL presents 'Anna Karenina' (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 27)
Mr. Carlson's musical language might be labeled Debyusky, Russified impressionism: surprisingly voluptuous rustles and cascades and washes of sound sometimes punctuated by tangy, pulsing winds. One doesn't walk out humming tunes, but the vocal writing is gracious. Anna Karenina is yet another musically retro American opera, but it's one of the more satisfying of the newer crop. With the same principal singers as in Miami, the cast is superb – and by now well-steeped in the opera. Kelly Kaduce's performance in the title role is a tour de force. She captures Anna's every nuance, from frustrated propriety to foolhardy infatuation to morphine-fueled disintegration, all the while singing gloriously.You can see more pictures in this photo journal by Matthew Westphal and Matt Blank for Playbill Arts.