” ‘But for the opera, I could never have written Leaves of Grass,’ Walt Whitman said late in life. That line is the opening salvo in Matthew Aucoin’s program notes to ‘Crossing,’ an opera that he composed, wrote the libretto for, and is now conducting at the Shubert Theater in Boston, through June 6th, for the American Repertory Theater. ‘Whitman considered opera the pinnacle of human expression,’ Aucoin writes, ‘something beyond the powers of language alone.’ But to reach that pinnacle, Aucoin hints, opera has to be redefined, at least in the minds of many Americans. ‘The essence of opera has nothing to do with stuffy salons and social one-upmanship,’ he says. It ‘is a primal union of animal longing, as expressed in sound, and human meaning, as expressed in language.’ “
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