Meanwhile Nathan Gunn, I think, has gotten bad press. His voice actually shows well in the part: the only thing he lacks are the climactic high notes called for in the car aria. Unfortunately, these stick out.
Perhaps closest kin to Clyde as an operatic protagonist is Lulu: each navigates a social rise and fall, bisected by murder. Lulu inspires desire while Clyde is its agent, but the effect of each on others reveals society and drives the plot.
Tobias Picker acknowledges it early, beginning the first latter-day scene with a nod to Berg's most beautiful of all operas, both orchestrally and in the difficult (and oddly maligned) vocal line of small-time seductress Hortense. But then all sorts of other stuff rushes in -- each character, as the official interview noted, gets not a leitmotif but a characteristic style -- adding up to a more heterogenous whole than Lulu's beauty-plus-corruption-plus-death. Is it, I wonder, the fracturing of this equation that's bothered critics? The loveliness of Lulu's sound must, no less than her person's, be paid with violence. Conlon's Friday account happily brought this element of An American Tragedy out more than before, but there's nothing in the score that approximates the violence of, say, Berg's central interlude. Instead -- everything else. And then savaging -- in ink.
Noted: two music-journalism professionals who've admitted to liking the new piece are blog proprietors. Meanwhile, the local doyen of opera criticism offers yet another by-the-book trashing of Picker's work.
Don't ask me what that means, though.