BOULDER WEEKLY: ‘The Tender Land’ hits close to home
Like many of us, Laurie faces an uncertain future in the quest to follow her dreams.
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 University of Colorado Boulder’s Eklund Opera Program stands that observation on its head this weekend with its production of Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land.
Partly inspired by Walker Evans’s Depression-era photos of rural southern poverty, The Tender Land is the quintessential 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…