Magazine article Opera Canada

Getty

Magazine article Opera Canada

Getty

Article excerpt

Usher House

PentaTone Classics 5186 451

Gordon Getty is the scion of the wealthy oil family, but now devotes himself to composing. This is his second opera, with his own libretto very loosely based on Edgar Allen Poe's Fall of the House of Usher. It's a one-acter in five scenes lasting just over an hour, the scoring relatively spare and the soundscape tonal with, in Getty's words, "hints of atonality." In this scenario, Roderick Usher, who lives with his off-balanced sister, Madeline, has invited an old school friend (Poe himself) to his house to help expunge some ancestral ghosts and revive the Usher family line. Its not entirely clear what's at issue here since Getty has introduced some new elements, including references to a medical archive, an ancient curse and a malevolent character named Doctor Primus. "We ourselves may be at risk if we cannot puzzle it out," Usher sings. Indeed.

This is one of those pieces that may fare better in the seeing than the mere listening. …

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