Friday, September 28, 2007

Brokeback Mountain, The Opera!

Yep, 12-tone gay cowboys ... It's not a hoax ...

When word emerged this week that an operatic version of Brokeback Mountain is in the works, with a score by Charles Wuorinen, [pictured, left, with with Lepton the cat] a lot of people in the classical music world weren't sure what to think. For a start, the news appeared in the Rush and Molloy gossip column in New York's tabloid Daily News — not a place the industry thinks to look for breaking developments. And the combination of material, medium and music seemed wildly improbable: a spare short story by Annie Proulx about inarticulate Wyoming sheepherders — which, granted, had been made into a film that was very compelling but was far from histrionic — translated into the most histrionic of art forms? With a composer who's one of America's last major unrepentant modernists?

It was hard not to wonder if this was some sort of out-of-season April Fool's joke ...

"I think it's a marvelous idea," Wuorinen's manager, Howard Stokar, told Playbill Arts. "And so did Annie Proulx ... she liked the idea of it being an opera, and she liked the idea of Charles composing it."

There's no commission or opera house involved just yet — says Stokar, "Right now, it's really just under discussion. Who knows what's going to happen?" — but Proulx's approval means that one major hurdle that fells many worthwhile projects has been cleared. (Leonard Bernstein, for instance, is said to have worked on a treatment of Nabokov's Lolita but couldn't get rights to the story.)

The idea for a Brokeback opera was all Wuorinen's. "He wanted to work on a dramatic piece,"said Stokar, "and this seemed like the perfect subject."

Via Playbill Arts