Music: New Opera at Salzburg

Along with its brilliant revivals of Mozart and Richard Strauss, the Salzburg Festival likes to present new operas by contemporary composers. But again and again, the living composers sound less alive than the dead. This year's opera: Penelope, by Switzerland's promising Rolf Liebermann, 43, music director of Radio Zurich. Last week the work opened in a brilliant production, made a less than brilliant impression on audience and critics.

Composer Liebermann got his idea from a news clipping he read two years ago. Blending it with Homer's Odyssey, Librettist Heinrich Strobel wove a modern story about a war widow (Penelope) who remarries, then...

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