by Mike Telin
The program synopsis of the new opera Alice Tierney — which received its world premiere performances on January 27 through 29 at Oberlin’s Finney Chapel (I attended on the 29th) — consists of one brief paragraph.
The scene takes place at an archaeological dig in Philadelphia. At this site in 1880, a woman named Alice Tierney was found dead, hanging from a fence by her petticoats.
While the mysterious death of the real-life Alice could have become fodder for a made-for-television cold case mystery where everything is neatly wrapped up in sixty minutes, composer Melissa Dunphy and librettist Jacqueline Goldfinger resisted that temptation. Instead, they chose to create a sixty-minute emotional roller coaster ride that follows four archeology graduate students as they attempt to discover the truth about Alice’s demise.
The opera was commissioned by Oberlin Conservatory’s Opera Commissioning Program and a 2020 Discovery Grant from OPERA America. [Read more…]