Lesley writes: On July 1st, I attended what is, I suspect, a mostly unknown and unheralded opera called Leithian, the tale of Beren and Lúthien. It was held at the Liederkranz Hall, a small venue near Central Park on E. 87th in New York City. The composer and Metropolitan Opera singer, Adam Klein, also performed the lead role of Beren. Approximately 20 musicians and singers contributed, some singers trading off to play instruments from time to time.
Only the first half of the opera was presented — the author’s website informs us the complete work is over four hours long, and only certain excerpts of it have ever been performed live.
The evening began with a prologue entitled The Music of the Ainur, from the first chapter of the Silmarillion, featuring narration and an interesting blend of avant-garde piano, organ and the voices of the choir — Melkor’s strident disruptions clearly portrayed. But the real surprise came when Klein began his first solo as Beren wandering in the forest. With rich and ringing vocals, he brought everyone to absolute attention. Other highlights were performances by David Gagnon as Finrod and C. David Morrow as Sauron. Tami Swartz, Klein’s fiancée in real life, was a compelling Lúthien in her blue mantle, with long brown hair, a clear voice and a pure gaze, while Klein, with even longer hair, stalked the stage in a tunic and knee-high moccasins.
The story lends itself to opera perfectly — the guy of lesser origins wants the high-born girl, her parents hate him, they send him on an impossible quest to get rid of him, and then problem after problem ensues, with arias or duets sung at each turn. The first half ended as Lúthien rescues Beren from Sauron’s tower and she and Beren are reunited.
The small audience was enthusiastic, and the whole event had a cozy family feel to it. We found out Klein’s parents had sold us our tickets, when he announced, “As soon as my parents are seated, we’ll begin,” and they took their places in the front row. But as informal as the occasion felt, the music was flawlessly performed — the care and professionalism from everyone was evident.
I would like to see the second half someday, and there is a chance, as Klein called out, “Part 2 next year!” as the applause subsided. [adamcjklein.us]