Oklahoma Baptist University

Aaron Copland’s ‘Tender Land’ Opera Presented March 26-29

Fine Arts enthusiasts in central Oklahoma have an opportunity to enjoy Aaron Copland's opera, "The Tender Land," March 26-29 in Oklahoma Baptist University's Raley Chapel. OBU's Music Department will present the opera which brings to life a depression-era love story set in America's heartland.

Area schools are encouraged to bring students for a free performance Thursday, March 26, at 10 a.m. Public performances will be Friday, March 27, and Saturday, March 28, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, March 29, at 3 p.m. Tickets for public performances are $5 each and may be purchased at the door.

"Aaron Copland's opera, ‘The Tender Land,' has something for everyone," said Mark McQuade, OBU assistant professor of music and director of the production. "It is good for new opera goers as well as seasoned opera veterans. While this opera did not find success with audiences early on, it has since become somewhat of a ‘cult classic' and has found favor in many academic settings."


In OBU's production of "The Tender Land," Grandpa Moss, played by Charles Bullard Jr. (center), makes amends with Martin, played by Eric Gay (left), and Top, played by Ian Hockett (right).

In the opera, the rural Moss family engages in change caused by the graduation of the elder daughter, Laurie, and a visit from two strangers, Martin and Top. The drama is set to Copland's original music.

"Copland's beautifully crafted score, set to the libretto by Horace Everett, subtly weaves together themes of hope, love and self-realization," McQuade said. "I think people can relate personally to this story on many levels, and when you combine that with Copland's incredible gift of creating music that is truly ‘American,' and some very talented young singers, you have a winning combination."

McQuade encourages area schools to take advantage of the opportunity to introduce their students to opera by attending the free performance March 26. Schools planning to attend should contact the OBU Music Department at (405) 878-2305.

"We wanted to give students from the area the opportunity to experience opera," McQuade said. "This is an exciting, powerful and dramatic musical genre that very few get to experience any more - and you really do need to ‘experience' opera to get it. One can hear great singing, but until one hears that singing in context with costumes, sets and live actors, one can't truly appreciate the beauty of this art form.

"Hopefully by exposing younger generations to great music like this, we can cultivate an appreciation for the arts that will continue to develop in the years to come," he said.

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