One man's meteoric rise as a spiritual leader leads to his fall from grace. That's the familiar story behind Sinclair Lewis' classic - and controversial - novel "Elmer Gantry."
The book eventually became an Oscar-winning film starring Burt Lancaster, and in recent years, "Elmer Gantry" has found a new pulpit within American opera houses. The University of Houston Edythe Bates Old Moores Opera Center will host the city premiere of this contemporary hit and is the country's first university opera company to produce it.
Performances of "Elmer Gantry" are 7:30 p.m., April 9 - 10 and 12, and 2 p.m., April 11 in UH's Moores Opera House (Entrance 16 off of Cullen Boulevard). Tickets are $15 and $10 for students and seniors. To purchase tickets, contact the Moores box office at 713-743-3313.
"This opera has a very cinematic feel to it," said Buck Ross, director of the Moores Opera Center. "Audiences will feel as if they've stepped into a movie."
With music by Robert Aldridge and libretto by Herschel Garfein, "Elmer Gantry" follows the title character's evolution from a smooth-talking drifter into an influential - yet crooked - evangelist. While Gantry uses fire and brimstone tactics to tame his flock, he is not without a host of personal demons.
"The story takes a hard look at those who use religion for their own personal gain," Ross said.
Baritones Gabriel Preisser and Alan Koziol alternately perform the role of Gantry. Taking turns as Gantry's leading lady Sister Sharon Falconer are mezzo-sopranos Ashly Evans and Elyse Mendelson.
In addition to the powerful voices of the lead performers, "Elmer Gantry" also will be a showcase for rousing revival numbers and gospel choruses.
Nashville Opera premiered "Elmer Gantry" in 2007 to rave reviews, and it continues to leave its mark as a masterpiece of musical theater.
To learn more about the UH production of "Elmer Gantry" and the Moores Opera Center, visit http://www.music.uh.edu/opera/currentseason_showdetails_elmer.asp.
For more information about UH, visit the university's Newsroom at www.uh.edu/newsroom.