Correction: Because of an editing error, a review of the Boston Gay Men's Chorus in Tuesday's Living/Arts section misidentified where the concert took place. It was the Cutler Majestic Theatre.
Now in its 24th season, the Boston Gay Men's Chorus has become a reliable member of the local music community, regularly commissioning new works and often presenting unusual and intriguing programs. It is also a group that could probably get by on style alone, between the perfect drape of 175 tuxedos and the Baroque beauty of the Emerson Majestic Theatre. To the credit of music director Reuben M. Reynolds III, he consistently put the music first at this weekend's local premiere of a song cycle by composer Robert Seeley and librettist Robert Espindola.
''Metamorphosis" follows a young gay man as he grows up, falls in love, and confronts the social implications of his evolving identity. The singers narrate this journey from the protagonist's point of view in 11 short vignettes, to the accompaniment of a small orchestra. A dance troupe performs, too -- eight dancers choreographed by Michelle Chassé, whoplays the boy's mother.
The music is pleasant enough, but there were some remarkable touches in this interpretation. In ''Kicked in the Gut," Reynolds had the chorus make the most of each dissonance while Chassé and her dancers whirled, an effective pairing of angry music and furious dance. Tenor Peter Crosby was a fine choice, subtle yet sweet, for the solo in ''Tidy Endings."
This could have been earnestly dull, given the simplicity of text and music, but Chassé and Reynolds worked to imbue ''Metamorphosis" with emotion and drive. When the boy suddenly turned from the audience and dove headlong into the chorus, held aloft by the singers as they chanted the last lines of ''I Can Fly," the house erupted in thrilled applause.
Before the intermission, the ensemble performed several short pieces, mostly a cappella or with piano accompaniment. The most moving was ''A Love That Will Never Grow Old" from Gustavo Santaolalla's Oscar-winning score for ''Brokeback Mountain," here arranged for small chamber ensemble and chorus. The beauty was in the detail: The rhythm was keenly observed, and the more intricate twists of the melody were delivered with quiet assurance.
Also in the first half, the fledgling women's choir Voices Rising, some 40 singers, took over the stage for several pieces. The contrast with the power of an enormous and well-established men's chorus was unfortunate, as Leora Zimmer has brought together a competent if unsettled group.