Copland’s Tender Land hits close to home

At CU Eklund Opera, art imitates life imitates art

By Peter Alexander

Fiery gypsy smugglers, humpbacked court jesters, cruel tyrants, Japanese geishas and French nuns facing the guillotine—it’s a good bet that most operatic characters are outside the personal experience of the singers who portray them. But CU’s Eklund Opera Program stands that observation on its head this weekend with its production of Aaron Copland’s Tender Land (7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the Music Theater).


Sara Lin Yoder and Michael Hoffman in “The Tender Land” (Photo by Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado)

Partly inspired by Walker Evans’s depression-era photos of rural southern poverty, The Tender Land is the quintessentially American story of Laurie, a young woman graduating from high school. Facing an uncertain future with courage, she strikes out to follow her dreams. In other words, Laurie does exactly what the opera students at CU—and many of the rest of us, for that matter—have done.

The Tender Land takes place on a 1930s Midwestern farm—the realistic CU production places it in Iowa. The night before Laurie’s graduation, two down-and-out drifters arrive at the farm asking for work. Even though they seem more than a little shady, Laurie falls in love with one of them during her graduation party. They make plans to run away, but at the last minute the drifters disappear.

Her bags already packed, Laurie makes the courageous decision to leave on her own. At the end, her mother and younger sister are left at the farm house, just as they were seen at the beginning.

Read more at Boulder Weekly.

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Music Director Joshua Horsch

The Tender Land by Aaron Copland
CU Eklund Opera Program
Leigh Holman, director
Joshua Horsch, conductor

7:30 p.m. Thursday–Saturday, April 21–23
2 p.m. Sunday, April 24
Music Theater, CU Imig Music Building



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