Hot topics, tepid opera

Michael Kelly (Abraham Fleischman) and Cassandra Zoé Velasco (Linda Morales) in Hometown to the World. Photo by Tira Howard for the Santa Fe Opera

Dec. 17, Lensic Performing Arts Center

Hometown to the World, the second installment in the Santa Fe Opera’s Opera for All Voices initiative, had its local premiere at the Lensic Performing Arts Center with performances on Dec. 17 and 19. The 70-minute piece, about the aftermath of the infamous 2008 Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid at a kosher slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, was well intentioned, handsomely produced, skillfully performed, and dramatically inert.

Its creators, librettist Kimberly Reed and composer Laura Kaminsky, envisioned their opera as a call to action focused on big contemporary issues, but Hometown to the World needs more musical power and dramatic ferocity to achieve the intended result, especially given the modest performing forces (three or four soloists and a chamber orchestra of six to eight players) mandated by the Opera for All Voices project design.

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