Best Opera

Elmer Gantry

Not every town can host a major world-premiere opera, but Nashville Opera's John Hoomes made it happen. The results were theatrically sublime and historically significant for the local arts scene. Robert Aldridge and Herschel Garfein's opus, based on Sinclair Lewis' 1927 novel, was 17 years in the making, and with very few missteps, the authors gave us communicative lyricism, humor, pathos, an ambitious gospel-inflected score, and a revealing look at Midwestern evangelism that hinted at the grander aspirations of folk operas such as Porgy and Bess. The vocal work by leads Keith Phares and Jennifer Rivera was both supple and earthy. —MARTIN BRADY

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