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Indiana University Jacobs School of Music's Production of "Little Women".

MUSIC REVIEW: "LITTLE WOMEN" This opera really works!: By Peter Jacobi H-T Reviewer October 25, 2010

Eight years ago, when Mark Adamo's "Little Women" had its first collegiate production at the Musical Arts Center, thanks to IU Opera Theater, I noted that the opera grows on you. It surely does. The piece made an unexpectedly solid impression then. This time, it sucked me in totally, and twice, and with different casts, on Friday and Saturday evenings.The production itself is a contributing factor. The performers who portray the four sisters of Louisa May Alcott's 19th century New England family, the rest of that clan, and the men circling around the "Little Women" act and sing the roles with notable success. They've been aided and abetted by two gentlemen that, in collaboration, took full measure of Adam''s facile adaptation of the original story and his remarkable musical score, director Michael Ehrman and conductor Kevin Noe. The latter had the IU Chamber Orchestra in emotional cahoots with those on stage. And Robert O'Hearn's spare yet evocative and flexible two-level set, along with period costumes, created in 2002, also assisted in helping each and all to cast a spell.

But no amount of production effort could make much of an impact without an opera that works. "Little Women" works. This is an amazing package for a first opera, which “Little Women” was for Adamo. The somewhat sprawling story of the novel has been contained in scenes focused on the four sisters, but primarily on Jo, their self-proclaimed matriarch, from whose memory the tale is retold.

She has returned to the scene of their juvenile joys, to the attic of their home in Concord, where she frets over the four now rusty, dusty trunks that held the treasured possessions of Jo herself, Meg, Beth, and Amy. The visit causes her to recall key moments of the past: games, romances, Beth's death from scarlet fever and marriages.


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