Opera news: Maugham's 'Letter' for '09 delivery

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By Roger Snodgrass

TESUQUE – Santa Fe Opera General Director Richard Gaddis and his designated successor, Charles MacKay, shared the podium Wednesday for the annual spring ritual of announcing next season’s repertory.

Of particular interest for the 2009 season will be the world premier of a newly commissioned opera based on a play adapted by W. Somerset Maugham in 1927 from his short story, “The Letter.”

The opera’s composer Paul Moravec and librettist Terry Teachout were present for the announcement of the world premier and provided a tantalizing introduction to their project.

Moravec, a Pultizer-prize-winning composer and University Professor at Adelphi University, called it an “opera noir,” and said it was about ordinary people who happen to make a few mistakes and are swept into deep water.

Moravec was selected, Gaddis said, after an extensive search process that included listening to scores of tape submissions and following every tip and lead.

Moravec said that when Gaddis called him, the general director didn’t like their first idea.

“We rebounded with another idea,” he said. “Most operas are about sex and death, or death, or erotic love.”

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