“To Hell and Back” Reviewed by The Contra Costa Times

Heggie’s “To Hell and Back,” which revisits the myth of Persephone in a modern-day setting, was the radiant centerpiece of the [Philharmonia Baroque] orchestra’s program … the one-act opera is the organization’s first commissioned work … It was a bold experiment, and at Tuesday’s vibrant semi-staged performance, the results were magnificent. Heggie has given the orchestra a decidedly contemporary 40-minute score, one with echoes of Britten, Barber, Bernstein and Copland. “To Hell and Back” will come as a surprise to those who think modern opera isn’t sufficiently tuneful. Heggie has given the score some of his most arresting orchestral writing … And, as always, Heggie writes beautifully for the voice. High points, incorporating [Gene] Scheer’s eloquent prose, include a tender duet, a potent cabaret number for Anne, and a penetrating, grief-drenched aria for Stephanie. [Nicholas] McGegan and the orchestra gave the score a fervent first performance, and the soloists rose to the occasion admirably.
Nov 04, 2006