By Greggory Moore
Long Beach Opera Van Gogh
Van Gogh and The Tell-Tale Heart
Long Beach Opera
May 19, 2013
The epistolary life chronicle may be a thing of the past. Who writes letters these days, let alone eloquent, forthcoming revelations of the psyche and soul? We're lucky Vincent Van Gogh did. We are able to match one of the most compelling painters in history with his experience in his own words. Most of those letters were to his brother Theo and basically provide the libretto for Michael Gordon's Van Gogh, a short opera in six parts, the first four of which shift between a quietly aggressive angularity (I was reminded of mid-period Fishbone, believe it or not) and a spare bleakness that evokes the great artist's profound loneliness, times in which (as he tells his brother) he would go days without speaking to another person, except to order his dinner. Gordon has some nice moments here, such as a sequence of letter fragments, each begun with a "Dear Theo" motif, each with some minor detail that personalizes the voice: "I was on the dunes"; "I spent my last penny on this stamp."