Opera: Grimm for Grownups

The opera had all the makings of a flop. The set designer had never designed a set before. The male lead had never sung outside the shower. The conductor could not see the singers onstage.

As for the opera, its last professional U.S. production, seven years ago, had been decidedly unsuccessful. Yet when the Minneapolis Center Opera Com pany presented Carl Orff's The Wise Woman and the King at the Tyrone Guthrie Theater last week, it proved to be one of the most engaging productions of the U.S. opera season.

Wise Woman falls somewhere...