The Fall of the House of Usher
is one of Edgar Allan Poe's creepiest creations a journey into nightmare and self-destruction that toys with the reader's perceptions as a cat confuses its prey. Poe artfully challenges the imagination in the story of a man's visit to an old friend and his dying sister, intimating but never actually stating what's real and what isn't. In fact, the whole thing could be a hallucination. Was Madeleine buried alive? Did she actually claw her way out of her grave and kill her brother, Roderick? Did their sinister ancestral home really fall down on top of them? It's the stuff of not only great fiction but great opera, and this weekend Long Beach Opera presents the West Coast premiere of Philip Glass and Arthur Yorinks' 1987 adaptation of this Gothic classic. It's an eerie tour de force: Glass' signature minimalist style, which slowly builds, layer by layer, upon itself, evokes the haunting, surreal atmosphere of madness that's at the heart of the story. And in an innovative turn, the doomed Madeleine gets no arias, only wordless vocalises. The cast includes Suzan Hanson as Madeleine, Ryan MacPherson as Roderick and Lee Gregory as William, the narrator. Andreas Mitisek conducts. Warner Grand Theater, 478 W. Sixth St., San Pedro; Sun., Jan. 27 & Feb. 3, 2 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 2, 8 p.m.; $29-$160. (562) 432-5934, longbeachopera.org.
Sun., Jan. 27, 2 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 2, 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 3, 2 p.m., 2013