Gordon Getty: Plump Jack
It cannot be easy being a venture capitalist and philanthropist – once listed by Forbes as America’s richest man – and expect to be taken seriously as a composer. Equally, it can’t be easy for artists or record companies, however serious, to resist any offers of working on such a man’s music. So it is also difficult to overlook these issues when approaching this new CD of Gordon Getty’s opera Plump Jack, which unbiased ears will probably hear as no worse – and no better – than many contemporary operas. Plump Jack scrapes into the ‘contemporary’ category, however, only on account of being written (in stages) over recent decades. Getty is a ‘neo-con’ composer, whose style here ranges from harmless film music in the unduly long overture, to sub‑Wagnerian recitative for most of the vocal scenes.
Basing his opera on Shakespeare, Getty is of course pitting himself against Verdi. Getty’s opera is stuffed with period-evoking quotations, and even this shortened ‘concert version’, squeezed on to a single disc, feels long and unmemorable. But the strong cast makes a fine team. I hope they were all well paid.