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The Boston Globe

Music

MUSIC REVIEW

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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