It’s Not One Thing, It’s Everything

So what exactly is wrong with Nicholas Maw’s adaptation of Sophie’s Choice? What isn’t? “The opera’s novel-like narrative plays badly onstage. None of the three main characters – the refugee Sophie, her charismatic but mentally ill Brooklyn boyfriend Nathan, and the bystanding narrator Stingo – has a strong entrance. Character expositions are antitheatrical, dispersed rather than concentrated. The first two acts don’t end so much as they stop. Scene after scene lacks a context that might infuse the mundane hi-how-are-you moments in the libretto with significance.”