Nico Muhly on the Drama of Bringing His New Opera to the Met

Nico Muhly in the New York Times:

“Marnie,” my new opera, which has its American premiere on Friday at the Metropolitan Opera, is about a woman who lies, steals, gets caught and is forced to marry a man who sexually assaults her. It’s delicate material — to say the least — and deeply plot-driven, and the dramatic structure has to be airtight to allow room for expressive musicality.

The director, Michael Mayer, called me with the idea for a “Marnie” opera five years ago. The story is most famous from the Hitchcock film, but we found that the 1961 Winston Graham novel on which it’s based was a far richer source of psychological tension and freed us from any visual or musical entanglements with the movie. That first notion blossomed into a wonderful libretto by Nicholas Wright, which then turned into a giant stack of manuscript.

Now, in the days before opening, among the orchestra, the chorus, the principal singers, the stage crew, spot ops, dressers, wig-makers, etc., there are hundreds of people reacting to this document; it’s a huge, thrilling, anxiety-producing setup.

More here.