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The Boston Globe



Pigeons on the grass, ‘Saints’ in Jordan Hall

“But stories are only stories,” Gertrude Stein once put it as only she could, in other words: Who needs them? Certainly not, in Stein’s world, a modern opera!

She was writing, naturally, about “Four Saints in Three Acts,” that delectably inscrutable serving of sound and light, a 90-minute sashay down a key boulevard of operatic modernism, one that improbably connects interwar Paris with prewar Kansas City. Here is a piece that looks you in the eye and without the slightest upturn at the corners of its mouth declares: “How many saints can be and land be and sand be and on a high plateau there is no sand there is snow . . .” Or a bit more famously: “Pigeons on the grass alas”!

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