Aaron Copland’s ‘The Tender Land’ to be Performed at Southeast

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Feb. 4, 2006 — The Department of Theatre and Dance, in cooperation with the Department of Music at Southeast Missouri State University will present Aaron Copland’s renowned “The Tender Land” at the Forrest H. Rose Theatre Feb. 22-26.

“The Tender Land” has been hailed as “an essential American Opera” (American Music Magazine).  “It is a simple and poignant story of Laurie, a young girl yearning for a life beyond her farm surroundings as she graduates from high school. Set at spring harvest time on a Midwestern farm during the Depression, the story explores the relationships between members of the Moss family: Laurie, Ma, Grandpa Moss, and sister, Beth. Two itinerant farmers, Martin and Top, appear at the farm looking for work and are accepted, although with some suspicion.” (John J. Church, operaworld.com) The plot thickens as Laurie falls in love and Martin and Top are accused of a terrible crime.  Laurie must decide her future and ultimately chooses a bold new path.  

Copland’s music displays a style that is “uniquely evocative of rural America” (Lawrence Duckles), an effect which is helped by utilizing three folk tunes into the score:  “Zion’s Walls,” “Cottage by the Sea” and “If You Want to Go A-Courting.”  His ballets “Billy the Kid,” “Rodeo,” and “Appalachian Spring” are particularly well known.  “The Tender Land” is another entry in Copland’s great American music catalogue. Of special note are the “Love Duet” between Laurie and Martin, the finale of the first act, “Promise of Living,” Laurie’s aria “Once I Thought I’d Never Grow,” and “Stomp Your Foot,” a characteristically raucous barn dance.

Directed by Christopher Goeke and featuring original choreography by Gil McNaughton, “The Tender Land” will be a very exciting production for both discerning music lovers and fans of the theatre arts, and is the first opera performed on the Rose Theatre stage in some 30 years.

For more information or for tickets, please call the Performing Arts Box Office at (573) 651-2265.