Opera: Frozen Interplay

At 41, Ned Rorem is tall, dark, hand some and undoubtedly the best com poser of art songs now living. "I can put anything to music, including the en cyclopedia," he once remarked, with an engaging lack of diffidence. The New York City Opera and the Ford Foundation believed him, commissioned him to do an opera. Last week Rorem's opera, based on Strindberg's Miss Julie, had its premiere. The overall verdict: Rorem would have been better off with the encyclopedia — and the U.S. is still looking for its first major operatic composer.

Not that Rorem did not produce a singable...

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