Opera Theatre of St. Louis premiered a new opera about the legendary lesbians
Twenty-Seven premiered this week at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the opera that tells the story of Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and their legendary Paris Salon that played host to geniuses of the 20th century, including Picasso, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Matisse. Composed by Ricky Ian Gordon, the new opera stars the renowned singers Stephanie Blythe and Elizabeth Futral as Stein and Toklas, respectively. As the company's artistic director James Robinson told us earlier: “It’s fantastic that right here in the middle of the country we’re doing these things and people are just fine with it."
So far, it seems the community is enjoying the production. As Sarah Bryan Miller writes in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
"Blythe is a force of nature whose large frame supports a stupendous voice of great range. She made an utterly believable Stein, secure in her absolute rightness, hilarious and sometimes cruel in her epigrams. ('I’ve met many geniuses in my time,' she tells Man Ray. 'You, my dear, are a photographer.') She surrenders in a belated trial of conscience, over the way in which she and Alice survived the horrors of World War II as American Jews in Vichy France."
She also notes:
"Singers love Gordon’s music because he knows what works vocally and what doesn’t, and because he cares about getting it right. He has said that he hopes to see the day when opera and musical theater meet, and 27 helps to bring it closer. There are hummable tunes and recurring themes, drama and sweetness, in a well-wrought score. Vavrek is Steinian without stealing Stein and keeps the story moving, for a clever, witty libretto."