“Adriana Mater” is an opera of adverse questions and feelings however easy plot. Adriana (the mezzo-soprano Fleur Barron, a mighty presence in a small body) rebuffs Tsargo, a inebriated younger guy, with a mix of disgust and pity. However later, Tsargo — sung by way of the baritone Christopher Purves with Alberich-like chunk — returns all the way through wartime to rape her, empowered by way of circumstance and an attack rifle. Adriana turns into pregnant, and in spite of warnings from her sister, Refka (the alluringly lyrical soprano Axelle Fanyo), chooses to have the child. “It isn’t his kid,” Adriana says. “It’s mine.”
However she does fear: Will the kid be extra like Tsargo or like her? Cain or Abel? Act II, set 17 years later, places that uncertainty to the take a look at when her son, Yonas (an agile, heldentenor-like Nicholas Phan) learns his father’s id and units out to kill him. But if he sees Tsargo, blind and damaged, he can’t convey himself to do it. Yonas feels ashamed for no longer wearing out the homicide, however his mom is relieved. He’s actually her son.
Saariaho’s tune is never representational. Adriana’s offstage rape is punctuated with violent chords, and drilling percussion conjures up the attack of conflict, however another way the writing favors surroundings and abstraction. In some way that prefigures the grand tapestry of “Innocence,” she attaches explicit sounds to every persona: turbulent unity for Adriana, lengthy melodic strains for Refka, darkly shadowed low strings for Tsargo, frantic lightness for Yonas. Too incessantly in recent tune, conductors appear simply to be conserving time; however all this used to be treated deftly by way of Salonen, who seemed as animated and confident as though he have been accomplishing Beethoven.
Sellars’s concert-hall staging used to be minimum, as used to be his unique manufacturing on the Paris Opera. Right here, the motion opened up on platforms of more than a few heights that saved the singers, having a look recent, if no longer particularly of anyone position, in Camille Assaf’s costumes, nearly all the time remoted. At the beginning, Adriana and Tsargo’s little levels, below James F. Ingalls’s lights, have been coloured yellow and blue, as though to signify that the tale happened in Ukraine.
However any comparability to the present conflict didn’t linger. The colours modified continuously, mercurial and expressive, because the motion opened up. Neither Sellars nor the opera, in any case, wanted an up to date tale to make it extra recognizable. That’s already within the ranking, in the best way Saariaho’s delicately consoling tune stares down the worst of the sector and says: The one method ahead is grace.
Carried out on Sunday at Davies Symphony Corridor in San Francisco.