… a striking performance in which all of the various elements fell convincingly into place, serving the powerful narrative superbly.
Patti LuPone is formidable as Anne, never trying to be more than the Broadway belter we remember from “Evita” and so many other shows. Isabel Bayrakdarian as Stephanie is every bit her equal, singing in a large, focused and beautifully colored dramatic soprano. The contrast of styles, approaches, and deliveries is startling, but both are so compelling in their narratives, vocally and theatrically, that the contrast sorts itself out and we hear not two different voices, but youth appealing to age, innocence to experience, sufferer to survivor.
Heggie’s score is stunning, tonal, sweetly dissonant, and much of it written in a distinctively American style. “To Hell and Back” may be his strongest and most convincing writing to date. The libretto by Gene Scheer is equally potent, a tight and compelling story, straightforward and eloquent and spare.
The orchestra, led by Nicholas McGegan, unites score and singers in a performance that is musically charged, perfectly balanced and entirely engaged. The warm sound of period instruments carries the story admirably.