THE WORLD SO WIDE takes its title from its first track, "Laurie's Song" from Copland's 'The Tender Land.' Dawn Upshaw's program is composed of eight arias from 20th-century American operas--all composed after World War II, and all examples of attempts to break opera free of its European roots and give it an American voice. Upshaw's characterizations are aptly realized in both tone and interpretation. For "Laurie's Song" she takes on an innocent, youthful sound; her Pat Nixon in "This is Prophetic" sounds appropriately different.
Upshaw is a natural for this repertoire, particularly following her two previous discs, I WISH IT SO (songs of Blitzstein, Sondheim, Weill and Bernstein) and DAWN UPSHAW SINGS RODGERS & HART. This is a fine disc which should help to draw attention to some neglected works. At just over 45 minutes, however, it is a short disc, and not for lack of repertoire. Half of the pieces were written in the 1950s, and the gap between 1966 ('Antony & Cleopatra') and 1987 ('Nixon in China') goes unexplained. Where are Menotti, Pasatieri and Corigliano, to name just a few of the others who might have been included?