The Oklahoma premiere of the new American opera Our Town, based on Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, will be presented Feb. 21-23 by the Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University.
Set in the fictional New England town of Grovers Corners, the opera features music by American composer Ned Rorem and a libretto by J.D. McClatchy. Rorem’s evocative score and Wilder’s kaleidoscopic use of time illustrate cycles of love and marriage and death and loss in one village over the span of 12 years.
OCU’s award-winning Oklahoma Opera and Music Theater Company will present the three-act work in English, with a cast of 28. The 30-member opera orchestra is under the baton of Dr. Matthew Mailman.
Performances are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with a 3 p.m. Sunday matinee, on OCU’s historic Kirkpatrick stage, N.W. 25th and Blackwelder. Tickets ($12-25) are available from 405.208.5227 or okcu.edu/tickets. Director Karen Coe Miller will give a free curtain talk 45 minutes before each show.
“Thornton Wilder’s play, Our Town, has become a part of the American cultural consciousness,” Miller said. “Its simple story of life in an ordinary town invites us to reflect on the attention and intention we give to our own life’s events, big or small.”
Miller’s direction honors the work’s tradition of a sparse stage and limited props, as envisioned by its creators, to emphasize the story’s timelessness.
“Composer Ned Rorem gives us all the opportunity to discover or rediscover this work in his effective opera adaptation,” said Miller. “The voice is such a personal instrument. Rorem uses the intimacy of music to illuminate the journey of the characters and the audience from the personal to the universal.”
The operatic version of Our Town was premiered in 2006. It was commissioned by a consortium comprised of the Aspen Music Festival, Opera Boston, Lake George Opera, Indiana University, North Carolina School of the Arts and Festival Opera of California. The European premiere took place in London’s Silk Street Theatre in 2012.
The Oklahoma Opera and Music Theater Company’s season of American works continues with The Tender Land, March 7-9, from Aaron Copland (spotlight musical, Burg, $10); and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Tony Award-winning South Pacific, April 24-27, a co-production with Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre (Kirkpatrick, $15-35).
For more information on events at the Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University, visit okcu.edu/music or facebook.com/bassschoolofmusic.
‘Our Town’ the Opera – OCU premiere set for Feb. 21-23
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