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Classical 101

Andre Previn's Opera "A Streetcar Named Desire"

Andre Previn turns eighty this year. His accomplishments as a conductor, performer and composer go back over fifty years and don't need a lot of approbation from me. I'm listening to his opera A Streetcar Named Desire (1998) based, of course, on Tennessee Williams' play. I confess to imagining the behemoth Chryslers roaring through a film noir Los Angeles of 1946 or so; In short, a whole lotta movie music. I not sure this play needed an operatic setting. Renee Fleming, God love her, who was the marquee name for the project, is too thick of voice to portray Blanche's frailty and madness. And what do you do with Stanley Kowalski and "Hey Stella!" You shout it out. You have to. Major key coloratura isn't going to work. It's not an opera I need to hear a lot.