By MitchellYou'll recall that last year I ventured the thought that the best live opera I'd seen in the Twin Cities was the Skylark Opera's production of Ned Rorem's Our Town. Our Town has been performed as a straight play and as a musical, but I think it also lends itself quite well to the operatic treatment.
Rorem's opera is modern but still melodic, and in orchestration and structure (heavily on recitative and light on individual arias; think Menotti or Adams) it makes for a striking, moody, bittersweet presentation of a story that is itself striking, moody and bittersweet.
Here is a clip of the duet between Emily and George. I'm not sure of the source, and I don't recall if the orchestration in this scene really is for piano alone or if this is a scaled-down production (it could probably be more properly thought of as a chamber opera anyway), but this should give you a good flavor for the whole opera.