IN AN AGE WHEN the interrelatedness of things is increasingly the issue, opera becomes the medium of choice. Multilingual, multicultural, multimedia, diachronic, dialogic, dialectical, and somehow strangely delectable, opera is the one form that seems to have a chance of reproducing and invoking the simultaneities, confusions, juxtapositions, bitter tragedy, and just plain malarkey that constitute the texture of recent history.

This view was shared by Aristotle. It was d synthetic hybrid of music, dance, poetry, painting, and civic-mindedness that served as the basis of discussion in the Poetics. The famous formulation “art is an imitation of reality” (perhaps the word “totality” is a more useful approximation of the Greek) was in reference to the complex synesthetic possibilities of a mixed genre that was eventually reinvented in late-Renaissance Italy under the name of “opera.” There have

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