"Elmer Gantry" Shines at Montclair State

Photo: Mike Peters

Jennifer Rivera as Sharon Falconer in "Elmer Gantry"

With a sold-out run of four performances, Elmer Gantry, the new American opera with music composed by Robert Aldridge, director of Montclair State’s John J. Cali School of Music, and libretto by Herschel Garfein, came to the University in January.  The opera, a coproduction of Montclair State University and the Nashville Opera, had its world premiere in Nashville in November 2007 and news of its success there made its Montclair State debut eagerly anticipated.

Living up to its billing, the Montclair State performances of Elmer Gantry won rave reviews from audiences and critics alike. Vivien Schweitzer wrote in The New York Times, “The opera is a tunefully entertaining and thoughtful piece of theater.”  In addition to praising the professional singers, Schweitzer also lauded the student performers noting that “the well-rehearsed student chorus sang with heartfelt conviction,” and “the Montclair State University Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Paul Hostetter, played with more polish and verve than some professional ensembles.”

Without a doubt, Elmer Gantry was a highlight of the 2007-2008 Peak Performances@Montclair season and a production that will be talked about for years to come.  It was a showcase for the creativity and talent that exists here at Montclair State.