A Streetcar Named Desire

Andre Previn

The San Francisco Opera has done its best by Previn's first opera: Colin Graham's direction is crisp, Michael Yeargan's sets are suitably sleazy, and Renee Fleming pours heart and soul into the role of Blanche DuBois. But Previn's well-bred score barely hints at the dark crosscurrents of obsession and desperation that made Tennessee Williams' play so naggingly memorable. This slow-moving Streetcar is tonal but tuneless, sometimes violent but never sexy. Even the bluesy bits are oddly polite--an unexpected letdown from a composer-conductor who plays first-rate jazz piano on the side. Let's face it, Williams' lush prose needs no music: it is...

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