Photos: courtesy -
in partnership with L'Opera de Montreal and San Diego Opera
This adaptation of the French novel by Emile Zola is certain to be a highlight of the season.
Music is by award winning
American composer TOBIAS PICKER
and libretto is by Gene Scheer.
Dallas Opera: November 30 & December 2, 6, & 8, 2001
L'Opera de Montreal: February 2002
San Diego Opera: March 2003
The opera is in two acts. Set in Paris of the late 1800s, it revolves around Thérèse Raquin - her loveless marriage (with Camille, a weak and sickly man dominated by his mother, Madame Raquin) and her grand passion (for Camille's friend, Laurent), a murderous plot to dismantle the love triangle and a gnawing guilt that haunts her to death. It is classic Zola - Thérèse Raquin was in fact his first major novel - depicting with detailed realism extraordinary events (including the appearance of ghosts) that roil the lives of ordinary people.
Unlike most contemporary adaptations of classic works,* Tobias Picker's opera remains most true to Zola. The few and minor liberties taken in the name of poetic license do not tamper with plot and character, and as the sketches of the stage sets and costumes show, there are no transpositions in time and place. Indeed the only poetic license of significance is in the music but that, of course, is the composer's anointed privilege. It will also be the major surprise at the world premiere, and if Mr. Picker's past works are prologue, the music that informs this his third opera will be inventive, infused with drama and lyricism, and totally commanding of world attention.
About Tobias Picker
About Gene Scheer
Sets and Costumes
The Dallas Opera
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*There is today a resurgence of interest in Thérèse Raquin. Lincoln Center Theater's new musical "Thou Shalt Not", adapted from the novel by director-choreographer Susan Strohman (with libretto by David Thompson and music by Harry Connick, Jr.) which opened October 25 at the Plymouth Theater on Broadway, is set in the jazz world of post-war New Orleans. A movie version (the fourth film adaptation, the last one was in 1953) starring Kate Winslet and Judi Dench, reportedly set in contemporary times, is now in the works. And a two-part TV mini-series is scheduled for 2002. This turn-of-the-millenmium convergence of theatrical interest in a 19th century novel points to the near-immutability of human passion and consequently its timelessness/universality as a subject for dramatization. A heightened contemporary interest in the supernatural (aka ghosts) has been given as an alternative, though somewhat more trivial explanation.