Music: Poor Opera, Good Singer

Manhattan's hidebound Metropolitan Opera Company hadn't tackled a new opera for five years, when it wheezed through one performance of Gian-Carlo Menotti's The Island God. The Met had done nothing about England's brilliant, 33-year-old Benjamin Britten, whose Peter Grimes has been heard and praised in five European cities and whose latest opera, The Rape of Lucretia, had gotten even better notices in England. With a long look down their noses. Met officials still decided to take no chances.

What it considers a good risk the Met demonstrated last week. It put on a...

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