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Silver has done well. This is appealing tonal music largely deriving from early 20th century European tradition. Only at the time of prayer (Act 1, Scene 2) does Silver introduce music with Eastern drumming and sub continental vocal cadences [watch and listen -- chapter 8, 31:23-32:45]. This one sequence, heralding the bold, devil-may-care intrusion of the undisguised prince seems inspired by Jayadeva poetry of the Ganges and Brahmaputra delta lands. Otherwise I detect multiple influences -- Stravinsky, Mahler, Richard Strauss, Britten et al. The first Scene of Act 2 is frenetic with disbelief that Vidya's chambers have been broken into. Act 2, Scene 2 opens in unmistakable Western hymn-like fashion. There are no difficulties for a lay audience.

Hira played by Manami Hattori stands out; through her expressive responses and fine vocal skill, the character becomes at once devoted and supportive; disarming and coquettish. The busy Camerata Singers impress by their eager decisiveness.

Feldman's English subtitles (Note -- the opera is performed in English) are chunky and disconcertingly wander from place to place around the screen. All in all the production lacks somewhat in finesse and much of the vocal content is serviceable rather than inspired.

Having said that, The Thief of Love has much to recommend it -- affecting symbolism, moving dramatic moments and some music of great beauty. Best of all, it found its way onto DVD.

Sheila Silver (born 1946) lives in Spencertown, New York, with her husband, film writer and director, John Feldman, and son. Silver is Professor of Music at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. Born in Seattle Washington in 1946, Silver began piano studies age five. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Berkeley (1968) she studied with Erhard Karkoschka in Stuttgart and György Ligeti in Berlin and Hamburg. She completed her doctorate at Brandeis University in 1976. Ms Silver's compositions have been commissioned and performed by numerous orchestras, chamber ensembles, and soloists throughout the United States and Europe.

Sheila Silver (born 1946)
Sheila Silver (born 1946)

The Chicago Tribune has commented -- 'Silver speaks a musical language of her own, one rich in sonority, lyrical intensity and poetic feeling'.

As Hummingbird Films trumpet -- The Thief of Love (DVD) accomplishes what its creators set out to do: it makes accessible an intriguing new American opera in a substantially student production.

Copyright © 30 September 2007 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


the thief of love

8 37101 17100 7 NTSC DVD 4:3 Stereo FIRST RELEASE 112' 2006 Hummingbird Films

Gwendolyn Hillman; James Brown; Michael Douglas Jones; Manami Hattori; Myeongsook Park; Stony Brook Opera and Orchestra; David Lawton, conductor; Ned Canty, stage director; Phillip Baldwin, sets; Sarah Iams, costumes; Elizabeth Silver, lighting; Roger Grange, photography; Laura Kaminsky, executive producer; John Feldman, film producer and realisation

Sheila Silver: the thief of love, a lyric comic opera in three acts


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