Here's what prompted the previous posting: I saw The Tender Land Friday night at Berkeley Opera. And it is one big long snooze. The plot has almost no drama in it; the plot point with the most dramatic potential turns out to be a big McGuffin. It should have been milked for everything, but is not. Instead, it just evaporates and you see that it was a distraction, and never very important.
Those two young people described as "suddenly falling in love" in the synopsis? Ohman. There's a way to make that kind of magic happen - see the first act of Boheme starting where Mimi knocks on the door of Rodolfo's garrett - but Copland, no Puccini he, doesn't.
I admit that the surprisingly slack conducting from Philip Kuttner did not help. The orchestra played at something around mezzo-forte the whole way through, and the tempos ranged from andante to moderato. There just was not enough variation, and I can't believe that there isn't more contrast in the score.
Maybe it was my seat or maybe it was Berkeley Opera's excellent new digs at El Cerrito High, where I can complain about the weird seats and the carpeting that hides the steps in the theater, but that's it. Sightlines and acoustics appear excellent; the stage is spacious; they can finally fly in scenery, and there are real wings.
The singing was perfectly fine, and young Amy Foote, who sang Laurie, has a lovely voice with an excellent high register. The staging was straightforward and reasonably effective. I'm just sorry the cast didn't have a better opera to work with.