As the curtain fell on opening night of Nicholas Maw's opera, Sophie's Choice, the composer was greeted by a lengthy standing ovation that no doubt was prolonged even further by the sea of familiar faces in attendance. More than 200 university alumni, staff and friends were in the sold-out crowd at London's Royal Opera House on Dec. 7 to witness the debut of Maw's much-anticipated opera, a six-year labor of love for the Peabody faculty member, who both composed the opera's music and penned the libretto.
The sprawling four-hour production, based on the novel by William Styron, centers around a Polish woman during the Holocaust. Its lead character, Sophie, was played by Meryl Streep in the acclaimed 1982 film version.
The Hopkins supporters made the trip, sponsored by the Alumni Association, to behold what critics are already dubbing a masterwork. The London Times wrote, "Maw's opera has a bigness of sonority, passion, ambition and spirituality that sends it soaring above the work of his contemporaries," while The New York Times said that it is an "utterly admirable, affectingly conceived and beautifully realized work."
Maw received a joint commission from BBC Radio and the Royal Opera at Covent Garden to bring Sophie's Choice to the stage. The British-born composer has been a member of Peabody's faculty since 1998.
For more about the opera, including interviews with its creator, go to http://www.royalopera.org.