Aldridge: Sister Carrie

Reviewed on Fri 20 Oct, 2017

This live recording from its 2016 premiere by Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera provides a satisfactory introduction to a work that can boast an eminently singable libretto and a score with a secure narrative arc.

If Robert Aldridge and librettist Herschel Garfein’s second opera lacks the emotional punch of 2007’s Elmer Gantry, it is no less elegantly tailored. Aldridge clothes Theodore Dreiser’s 1900 novel Sister Carrie – a salutary tale about the hidden emotional cost of pursuing the American dream – in a pungent tonal garb that smacks of Puccinian verismo. This live recording from its 2016 premiere by Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera provides a satisfactory introduction to a work that can boast an eminently singable libretto and a score with a secure narrative arc and more than enough surprises in inking in character detail to satisfy. Adriana Zabala puts her warm, mellow mezzo to good use as the eponymous Carrie – whose fortunes are very much on the up – with the characterful baritone of Keith Phares both incisive and subtle as George, the luckless love interest on the way down and out. Committed support, too, from the Milwaukee Symphony under William Boggs.
–Michael Quinn