"The Grapes of Wrath," produced by Minnesota Opera

I know, I know. It was an opera. But the world premiere adaptation of John Steinbeck's iconic novel was also the most ambitious, galvanizing and audacious piece of performance I saw this year.

After 10 years and $2 million worth of development, what emerged was a three-act, four-hour journey that had both the might of an epic and a naked, intimate honesty that slugged you right in the gut. Composer Ricky Ian Gordon's rangy, cagey, nuanced score had one foot in the opera world and the other tapping more populist ground, referencing Gershwin and Broadway musicals. Michael Korrie killed off more Joads than did Steinbeck himself in an unabashedly lefty libretto.

But what I will remember most is director Eric Simonson's stunning staging, which ended each act with a gripping stage picture - an endless parade of migrants trudging westward, a single lost soul floating away from his troubled life and that final, forlorn pieta from the novel.
- Dominic P Papatola, TwinCities.com, 28 December 2007