Anne Midgette's letter from Santa Fe:
Shots were fired again Saturday night, opening the world premiere of the opera "The Letter." But they sounded a little flimsy, as if fired from a cap gun.
But in adhering to the rules of opera -- we must have arias and ensembles -- Moravec and librettist Teachout repeatedly show a tin ear for the exigencies of drama. The arias keep obtruding at inopportune moments to spell out things that don't need spelling out ("What have I done? I've killed him. He is gone forever"). They bring the action to a screeching halt.
And Moravec's music, though adroitly written, stays behind the words, supporting the action rather than dictating it. The arias hardly emerge, and the music proceeds one phrase at a time.
The good news for the Letter posse is that she didn't like Traviata that much, either.