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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

The Glitch, by Nico Muhly

Streaming on Catapult Opera's Web site / Music

The loss of grandeur—the red and gold of the concert hall, the soaring scale of opera, the wedding-cake kingdoms of ballet—has been much bemoaned during the pandemic. But the upside is intimacy. Not in person, of course, but creatively, through monologue as theater and living-room performances on Zoom. The opera conductor Neal Goren, founding artistic director of the Gotham Chamber Opera (and also an AIR MAIL contributor), has founded a new company, Catapult Opera, and its first creation is a winner. An opera in one act, for two singers, The Glitch is based on a 2015 prison break in upstate New York, in which Joyce “Tilly” Mitchell, who worked in a prison tailor shop, helped two convicts escape. Commissioned from composer Nico Muhly and librettist Greg Pierce, the 19-minute opera approximates the length of a jailhouse visit, and sees Tilly, now behind bars, facing her husband, Lyle, who was “the glitch” in the escape plan. Anger and accusation, regret, desire, and doubt—these fleeting responses contour the couple’s arias and duets, powerfully performed by soprano Krysty Swann and baritone Lester Lynch. “While Covid was the impetus for us to pivot from our planned live performances,” Goren says, “it provided us with the opportunity to focus on how to bring new audiences to opera.” —L.J.

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