by Theodore Strongin.
David Amram's new opera, "The Final Ingredient," is a neat, effective, even moving theater piece.
Aside from its intrinsic merits, the opera, which was given on the American Broadcasting Company's "Directions '65" yesterday, is a reason for rejoicing. It was commissioned by the network, then written, produced and shown. Not many operas get to even the first of those stages.
Mr. Amram handles his all-purpose, sentimental song-speech wisely. He gives his singers plenty of lyrical phrases to expand on.
He arranges for sensibly spaced rises and falls in tension, and he has provided a well-planned climax. All through he underscores the contention of the moment with small, deft musical touches.
The story concerns the gathering of the ingredients for a Passover seder by prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp. This goes on, of course, behind the backs of the captors. One of the prisoners is killed getting the final ingredient of the title, a bird's egg that symbolizes immortality.
Mr. Amram himself conducted the American Broadcasting Symphony, and his soloists did a ringing, moving job. "The Final Ingredient" is a group show. The 14 performers, all excellent, had more or less equal tasks and did them equally well.
Robert DeLaney directed with complete understanding of Mr. Amram's intentions and with sympathy for the characterizations.