Notes & Reviews:
Alexandre Dumas père's lighthearted tale of dubious paternity and political intrigue set in the Austrian Tyrol forms the basis for American composer Louis Karchin's comic opera Romulus. Full of surprises and delights, well-rounded characters and a lively sense of theatricality, Romulus boasts memorable music. 'While studying opera, I was intrigued by how effortlessly Strauss and Wagner could attain a seamless flow,' notes Karchin, 'and I tried to emulate this.' The Washington Square Ensemble is joined by a cast of first-class singers conducted by the composer.
Romulus, a one-act comic opera by Louis Karchin (b. 1951), announces its originality right out of the gate with its short, whimsical instrumental introduction and sustains it through to the very end of its seventy-two-minute running time. The music is unfailingly
I find it a real contribution to the tradition of short comic opera... The performance... radiates wit and energy, both vocally and instrumentally. Bravo to all involved.
American Record Guide
Karchin states that he has tried to emulate the effortless, seamless flow of Richard Strauss and Wagner. He succeeds admirably. It does not sound like Strauss or Wagner's music, just the seamless flow. The melodies are memorable, those "take-home" kind of tunes so obviously missing from contemporary opera. It's a gem of an opera and a gem of a performance.
Karchin's instrumental palette is rich, varied and often stunning. The emotion that Karchin's orchestration and instrumental effects produce, whether they be audiophile drums grabbing centre stage or chimes describing the more esoteric aspects of the dramatic argument, gives rise to moments of striking beauty and visceral excitement that inform and colour the opera.
... terrific comic opera... released on Naxos in a beautiful composer-led performance... Writing a good, tight comic opera is exceptionally difficult to do, but Karchin succeeds admirably, having adapted his own libretto from the play by Alexandre Dumas père. It was a real triumph on stage, and it's an unmitigated pleasure to revisit it here on recording.
The composer leads a very capable and personable cast of singers and the polished, lively Washington Square Ensemble in this 2009 recording, part of Naxos' American Opera Classics series.
Recording information: Recital Hall of the State University of New York, Purch (08/30/2009-09/01/2009).
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Works DetailsKarchin, Louis : Romulus, comic opera in 1 act
- Performers: Steven Ebel (Baritone); Thomas Meglioranza; Katrina Thurman (Baritone)
- Conductor: Louis Karchin
- Ensemble: Washington Square Ensemble
- Notes: Recital Hall of the State University of New York, Purchase, NY, USA (08/30/2009-09/01/2009)
- Running Time: 3 min. 42 sec.
- Period Time: Contemporary
- Form: Opera/Operetta