New opera's success is beyond 'Doubt'
But as Sister Aloysius becomes increasingly suspicious of the priest's relationship with the school's only black pupil, the music gains in lyric and dramatic power, culminating in their first confrontation at the end of Act 1. This arc continues throughout Act 2, where scene after scene reaches an emotional peak. The encounter in which Father Flynn wins over the young Sister James to his side takes on the feel of a seduction scene, their voices rising in overlapping harmony as they affirm that the "message of the Savior" is the "love of people." And Sister Aloysius's interview with Donald's mother — sung with rich, passionate tone by mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves — is riveting in its intensity.
It's in these later scenes that Cuomo gives Brewer a chance to exploit her plush upper register to its fullest. And her soaring vocal line as she moves toward victory and then gives voice to doubt imbue her character with a kind of tragic grandeur that words alone could not achieve.
The other soloists are first-rate as well. As Father Flynn, Matthew Worth complements his flexible baritone with a dashing, ingratiating presence that may or may not conceal a dark secret. Mezzo Adriana Zabala makes a sweet-voiced, earnest Sister James.
The production, directed by Kevin Newbury, is fast-paced and effective if perhaps overly elaborate. The many scenes melt seamlessly into one another thanks to Robert Brill's movable sets and Japhy Weideman's evocative lighting. Conductor Christopher Franklin leads the orchestra in a persuasive account of the score.
There are four more performances through Feb. 3.
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