by Daniel Hathaway
For its spring production, Kent State Opera will present Aaron Copland’s 1954 opera, The Tender Land — a title that seems not to have been staged in Northeast Ohio for at least ten years, although a suite of orchestral excerpts has appeared with some regularity on concert programs.
In a telephone conversation with music director Jay White, the Kent professor admitted that Tender Land was not on his radar before he and Marla Berg decided to produce it at Kent. “The only thing I was familiar with was the choral arrangements of ‘The Promise of Living’ and ‘Stomp Your Foot,’” he said. “Marla wanted to do something in English again and we had done an excerpt from it in our scenes program a couple of years ago. There are essentially three main male characters and two main female characters, and for the first time, we actually had enough men to fill all the principal roles.”
Inspired by Walker Evans’ Depression-era photos and James Agee’s book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, and with a libretto by Horace Everett under the pseudonym of Erik Johns, the opera was originally conceived for broadcast on television, but its producers sank the project. [Read more…]