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Soprano Anne Marie Lucas was 'Marmee' or Alma March, and her husband, father Gideon (as well as publisher Mr Dashwood) was sung by bass-baritone Scott Guinn. Mezzo Lorraine Manz played the busy-bodyish Aunt Cecilia March with gusto. The quartet of female voices was provided by members of the Artist Apprentice Program, a highly-regarded component of Lyric Opera Cleveland. They are: Catrin Rowenna Davies, Clea Nemetz, Susan Williams and Dana Zenobi.

An extra touch of verisimilitude in this production is provided by the stage direction of Mr Adamo, who certainly knows not only what he wants, but how to get it. The pacing is brisk without losing any of the little details in the process, but yet not so fast as to challenge the singers or the orchestra. In this, he is wonderfully aided by conductor James Lowe, in charge of the talented group of Cleveland freelance musicians in the pit.

The various settings of the opera are stunningly depicted by abstract bits of scenery, scrims and evocative lighting, masterminded by Michael Grube (set design) and Jeremy Benjamin (lighting design). Costumes by S Q Campbell are exactly right for the period, as well as the ages of those who wear them.

Overall, however, an opera lives or dies by its music. Little Women by Mark Adamo, who was in his middle thirties when he began the piece, is a formidable addition to the opera catalog. There is no reason why it shouldn't attain the same popularity and longevity as the book from which it was taken.

Copyright © 22 June 2004 Kelly Ferjutz, Cleveland USA


There is one more performance of Little Women - Thursday evening 24 June 2004 at 7pm. For information or tickets, call the Cleveland Play House ticket office at +1 (216) 795 7000, or Lyric Opera Cleveland at +1 (216) 685 5976. Their web-site is at

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