MILLVILLE – The Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre will close out its Season 2022 premieres Thursday with the opera The Tender Land by Aaron Copland.
The American opera will be performed outdoors at the Griffin farm in Millville at 7:30 p.m. on July 21 and 23.
The Tender Land is a romance set against the backdrop of the Midwest during the Great Depression.
Copland is often referred to as the dean of American composers. He is renowned for writing music with open, slowly changing harmonies that many people regard as typically American, evoking the nation’s vast landscape and pioneer spirit.
Copland is best known for works he composed in the 1930s and 1940s in a deliberately accessible style that he referred to as “populist music.”
Those works include some ballets – Appalachian Spring, Billy the Kid and Rodeo – in addition to his well-known Fanfare for the Common Man and Third Symphony.
Copland also wrote movie soundtracks in the late 1940s, including the Oscar-winning score for William Wyler’s The Heiress and the film adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel The Red Pony.
The Tender Land was originally written to be performed on television. After TV executives rejected Copland’s two-act opera, he expanded the libretto to three acts for performances at the New York City Opera and Tanglewood in 1954 and Oberlin College in 1955.
The critics were less than kind, but The Tender Land still became one of the few American operas to enter into the standard repertory.
The story centers on Laurie, a restless farm girl played by soprano Trysten Reynolds. When two drifters arrive – Martin (tenor Thomas Massey) and Top (baritone Nathaniel Voth) – they upset the nothing-ever-happens-here stability of the farm. A whirlwind romance develops between Laurie and Martin, but their love is ultimately doomed. A disillusioned Laurie then joins a wandering generation of young Americans seeking new opportunities.
The opera’s stirring anthem, “The Promise of Living,” is often performed as a separate choral composition.
The Tender Land will be performed at the home of the UFOMT managing director Gary Griffin in Millville.
Directions to the Griffin residence are as follows:
From Logan, take Main Street south toward Salt Lake. At the Y in the road at 700 South, bear left toward Hyrum on SR-165.
Go past Macey’s grocery store about two miles, then turn left at the Maverick gas station in Nibley.
Cross over the river, then turn right. The road will turn east and become 300 South. Continue east to 400 East, then turn right down the canal bank road.
At the sign that says “Private Road, No Exit,” take the road a quarter-mile to the white house with a green roof. If you see the Millville City Park, you’ve gone a little too far east.
Griffin advises that, while in Millville, you should follow the blue city signs, not the green county signs.
He also invites anyone who gets lost to call him at 435-770-5741 for directions.