David Maurer says “Let us hope that Abel finds a way to get this opera produced in Los Angeles, because with the right director it could be a terrific show.” in his new review of Mark Abel’s Home Is A Harbor opera and recording:
“‘Art music’ is a coded phrase for music that most people would consider strange, offbeat or eccentric. Mark Abel’s first opera, Home Is a Harbor, is all those things, but in a good way… This California-based composer has a unique sound that blends many influences and musical genres and offers an inventive vision of what a modern opera can be. Abel has presented his vocal art music on two previous Delos releases, The Dream Gallery and Terrain of the Heart, but this is his most fully realized work. … As both composer and librettist, Abel offers a highly personal vision of the things that matter most to him. In music and words, he provides a map of sorts that lays out both the dysfunctional externalities of modern American urban life as well as the internal struggle to transcend those harsh realities to find beauty and meaning. Home Is a Harbor begins and ends in Morro Bay, a place of sanctity and calm that, not coincidentally, happens to be close to Abel’s home in Central California. …Abel presents a panoply of sounds, moods, textures and ideas that make listening to this well-recorded disc worthwhile. He brings an organ into the mix, from which he variously coaxes church sounds and rock sounds or mirrors the double bass. There are moments of humor as well, such as when Lisa visits a club and encounters a snatch of Madonna-like synth pop while waiting to hear a comically bad female singer known as The Yowler. The orchestra, La Brea Sinfonietta conducted by Benjamin Makino, features primarily woodwinds, some horns, as well as three percussionists. Notably, there are no violins used at all. … Let us hope that Abel finds a way to get this opera produced in Los Angeles, because with the right director it could be a terrific show.” —David Maurer, Culture Spot LA
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