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22 Oct 2004

Opera Omaha to Present Copland's The Tender Land

Aaron Copland's The Tender Land: Opera About Midwestern Farm Family Opens Opera Omaha's Orpheum Season November 17, 19, 21 Omaha, NE--Opera Omaha will open its Orpheum season of performances with a new production of Aaron Copland's The Tender Land. Performances...

Aaron Copland's The Tender Land: Opera About Midwestern Farm Family Opens Opera Omaha's Orpheum Season November 17, 19, 21

Omaha, NE--Opera Omaha will open its Orpheum season of performances with a new production of Aaron Copland's The Tender Land. Performances are November 17th and 19th at 7:30 pm, and November 21st at 2:00 pm. Tickets for The Tender Land are $13-$84 and are available by calling 402-34-opera or online at

The Tender LandAaron Copland, who lived from 1900 to 1990, is among America's most renowned symphonic composers, best known for Appalachian Spring, Fanfare for the Common Man and Rodeo, which includes the famous "Hoe-Down" used in beef industry commercials. The Tender Land, commissioned by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the League of Composers, was Copland's only opera. It premiered at New York City Opera in 1954.

The Tender Land is the story of a Midwestern farm couple, their teenage daughter, Laurie, and an itinerant harvester, Martin, with whom she falls in love. Inspired by photographer Walker Evans' touching portrait of the American farm crisis of the 1930s, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, The Tender Land focuses on Laurie's coming of age as she is torn between family, the land and independence. The Tender Land includes one of the American musical theater's most beautiful ensembles, The Promise of Living, as well as the hope-filled "Laurie's Song," which has been recorded by many of the world's leading sopranos.

"'The Promise of Living', which our chorus performed for Omaha's 150th Birthday Celebration events, is about a community coming together to bring in the harvest," says Joan Desens, General Director. "Musical elements such as this, along with a powerful and emotional story line about life on a Midwestern farm, should have great resonance for Nebraskans, especially in the week leading up to Thanksgiving."

Opera Omaha's new production is designed by New York-based scenic artist Peter Harrison, who just completed The Threepenny Opera for the company. New York director, Rhoda Levine, who was last in Omaha for a famous production of The Bartered Bride in 1978, directs.

The cast features acclaimed mezzo-soprano, Jennifer Dudley, making her Opera Omaha debut as Ma Moss. Dudley is well-known to audiences at Chicago Lyric Opera, New York City Opera and the Metropolitan Opera. She makes her Houston Grand Opera debut this year in the world premiere of Mark Adamo's Lysistrata.

Joining her are Megan Tillmann as Laurie and Matthew DiBattista as Martin. In the opera, Laurie experiences her first love with Martin, and in real life, Ms. Tillmann and Mr. DiBattista met performing these roles. They are now happily married. According to Ms. Tillmann, "Not only is Laurie's passion and curiosity for the world beyond her own an inspiration to me, my love for the role is also very personal. [Matthew and I] are grateful to have the opportunity to perform it together again."

In association with this production, Opera Omaha will present a series of free public musical events and talks at various locations in Bellevue, Lincoln and Omaha. Included will be an examination of the work of Nebraska farm photographer, Wright Morris, a contemporary of Walker Evans, and presentations by Copland biographer Vivian Perlis of the Yale University Oral History American Music archives. For a calendar of events contact Opera Omaha Community Programs at 402-346-4398 ×203, or visit

Opera Omaha's Fall Season of opera productions and Opera Insights programs are generously underwritten by HDM Corp. Additional support for the production of The Tender Land is made possible by the Aaron Copland Fund for Music and Pinnacle Bank. Principal artists are sponsored by Blackwell Sanders Peper Martin, Jefferson Pilot Financial and Graham and Sally Lusk.

Opera Omaha's Opera Insights programs are made possible, in part, by grants from the Nebraska Council on the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Hearst Foundation and the Peter Kiewit Foundation.

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