About Superconductor

Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2016 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Opera Preview: The Tender Land

Aaron Copland's American opera at Chelsea Opera.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Aaron Copland's The Tender Land brings the American heartland to Chelsea.
Photo from Flickr.com
Chelsea Opera, the small company that gives its performances at St. Peter's Churg on W. 20th St. in Manhattan, concludes its 2014 spring season with Aaron Copland's The Tender Land. This is Copland's only opera, composed in 1954 and premiered at the New York City Opera in 1955. There are just two performances: on June 13 and June 14.


Chelsea music director Samuel McCoy said: "Copland (makes) use of beautiful melodic motives supported by open-chord harmonies to create an aural image of the expansiveness of rural America."

The story of The Tender Land was based on a series of photograps by Walker Evans, taken at the time of the Great Depression. The story chronicles the labors, struggles and personal triumphs of a small frontier family and the blossoming romance between Laurie, the farmer's daughter, as she comes of age and a drifter named Martin. It is in some ways an ancestor to later American operas like Jack Beeson's Lizzie Borden and Carlisle Floyd's Of Mice and Men.


Mr. McCoy said: "Copland writes sweeping lyrical lines for the voice that create a marvelous tension between the thrust of the melodic line and the spaciousness of the supporting music. It poses a thrilling challenge for the singers, the orchestra and [the conductor] to find that perfect balance between tempo and dramatic expression."

Commissioned by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein with the largesse from their string of Broadway hits, this is Copland's most important operatic score. It is also least performed and most misunderstood American operas, joining a long list of great works (Madama Butterfly, Tristan und Isolde, Carmen) that bombed on opening night.

The music for The Tender Land is some of Copland's most enchanting, incorporating idiomatic American folk music much in the same way as the composer did with Appalachian Spring. Written with a delicate score that is ideal for Chelsea's intimate church performing space, this is a late-season opportunity to catch this rare American masterpiece.

Post a Comment

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Translate

Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

My photo

Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.