Madrid's Teatro Real to Present BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN World Premiere, Jan 29-Feb 11
Teatro Real, Brokeback Mountain
Under the direction of Gerard Mortier, the Teatro Real is fast becoming one of the world's most innovative and exciting opera houses. With eight performances scheduled for early 2014-January 29 to February 11-Teatro Real will mount the first-ever production of Charles Wuorinen and Annie Proulx's BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN.
Brokeback began its operatic life when Mortier heard about Wuorinen's wish to write an opera based on Annie Proulx's extraordinary 1997 short story, and set out to commission the score. Proulx's Brokeback Mountain (made into an Academy Award-winning film by Ang Lee) was first published in The New Yorker and subsequently in Proulx's celebrated collection of Wyoming stories, Close Range. In 2007, Wuorinen contacted Proulx with the proposal of turning Brokeback into an opera, and the author signed on to write her first libretto.
Wuorinen, a lifelong New Yorker who celebrates his 75th birthday this year, is the recipient of both a Pulitzer Prize and a MacArthur grant. He has written more than 260 works, including an earlier opera, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, which premiered at New York City Opera in 2004. The work was immediately hailed for its score, able to "dazzle any receptive ear with its incredibly broad palate of finely tuned sounds and irrepressible vitality" and as "a singularly apt musical response" (Peter G. Davis, New York Magazine) to the novel by Salman Rushdie, on which the opera was based.
Brokeback Mountain marks Wuorinen's return to the opera stage with one of the major works of his career, equally ambitious in its beauty and momentous tragedy as Haroun was in fantastical whimsy.
Brokeback is the story of ranch hand Ennis del Mar and rodeo cowboy Jack Twist, two young men who meet and fall in love on the fictional Brokeback Mountain in Wyoming in 1963. Wuorinen says "It's a story of doomed love, in this case a complex homosexual relationship taking place in a very homophobic society."
The 2005 film co-starred Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger. The motion picture won three Academy Awards, including Best Achievement in Directing (Ang Lee), Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score (Gustavo Santaolalla) and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay (Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana).
In a decidely different approach than the film adaptation, Wuorinen creates a grittier atmosphere. The story and characters have been tightly condensed by Proulx, a ghost and a chorus have been added, and nature itself introduced as the underlying element of the narrative. Wuorinen's score evokes the mountains with its swells and strains, bringing to life the harshly imposing Wyoming landscape from which the story was born.
Teatro Real's production is to be directed by the renowned theater and opera director Ivo van Hove (general director of the Toneelgroep in Amsterdam) and conducted by Titus Engel, who made his celebrated debut at the Teatro Real last season, with sets and lighting by Jan Versweyveld, video projections by designer Tal Yarden, and costumes byWojciech Dziedzic.
Leading the cast is the "irresistible" bass-barione Daniel Okulitch (New York Magazine) as Ennis Del Mar and tenor Tom Randle as Jack Twist, praised by The Guardian for his "considerable magnetism and experience."
Soprano Heather Buck plays the role of Alma. Buck sang the title role in the premiere of Wuorinen's Haroun with New York City Opera in 2004, in which The New York Times wrote she "brought charming tomboyish energy, and sang with unflagging stamina and impressive assurance." Rounding out the cast is Czech mezzo-soprano Hannah Esther Minutillo as Lureen.
Tickets for the opera Brokeback Mountain go on sale October 2, 2013 and are available for purchase online at www.generaltickets.com/teatro-real.
The Cast and Creative Team:
Titus Engel, conductor
Ivo van Hove, director
Jan Versweyveld, sets and lighting
Wojciech Dziedzic, costumes
Tal Yarden, video
Jan Vandenhouwe, dramaturgy
Andrés Máspero, chorus director
Tom Randle, Jack Twist
Daniel Okulitch, Ennis del Mar
Heather Buck, Alma Beers
Hannah Esther Minutillo, Lureen
Ethan Herschenfeld, Aguirre/Hogboy
Hilary Summers, Bartender
Ryan MacPherson, John Twist Sr
Jane Henschel, Mrs. Twist
Letitia Singleton, Saleswoman
Charles Wuorinen, composer (www.charleswuorinen.com): In 1970 Wuorinen became the youngest composer at that time to win the Pulitzer Prize (for the electronic work Time's Encomium). The Pulitzer and the MacArthur Fellowship are just two among many awards, fellowships and other honors to have come his way.
Wuorinen has written more than 260 compositions to date. His newest works include Time Regained, a fantasy for piano and orchestra based on early music (Matteo da Perugia to Orlando Gibbons) for Peter Serkin, James Levine and the MET Opera Orchestra; Theologoumenon, an orchestral tone poem commissioned for James Levine's 60th birthday; Eighth Symphony and Fourth Piano Concerto for the Boston Symphony Orchestra; and It Happens Like This, a staged setting of poems by James Tate.
In 1984 Wuorinen was the first composer commissioned by the Cleveland Orchestra under its new Music Director, Christoph von Dohnanyi (Movers and Shakers); and likewise in 1996 the first to compose for Michael Tilson Thomas' New World Symphony (Bamboula Beach) which the Miami herald described as "An exhilarating, festive, six minute tour-de-force for large orchestra." In 1975 Stravinsky's widow gave Wuorinen the composer's last sketches for use in his homage A Reliquary for Igor Stravinsky, premiered by Tilson Thomas in Buffalo and Ojai. The Reliquary received its first recording under the baton of Oliver Knussen and the London Sinfonietta on a Deutsche Grammophon CD, and was choreographed by Peter Martins for the NYCB in 1995 (with the composer conducting).
His works have been recorded on nearly a dozen labels including several releases on Naxos, Albany Records (Charles Wuorinen Series), John Zorn's Tzadik label, and a CD of piano works performed by Alan Feinberg on the German label Col Legno.
Wuorinen's works are published exclusively by C.F. Peters Corporation. He is the author of Simple Composition, used by composition students throughout the world.
An eloquent writer and speaker, Wuorinen has lectured at universities throughout the United States and abroad, and has served on the faculties of Columbia, Princeton, and Yale Universities, the University of Iowa, University of California (San Diego), Manhattan School of Music, New England Conservatory, State University of New York at Buffalo, and Rutgers University.
Wuorinen has also been active as performer, an excellent pianist and a distinguished conductor of his own works as well as other twentieth century repertoire. In 1962 he co-founded the Group for Contemporary Music, one of America's most prestigious ensembles dedicated to performance of new chamber music. In addition to cultivating a new generation of performers, commissioning and premiering hundreds of new works, the Group has been a model for many similar organizations which have appeared in the United States since its founding.
Wuorinen is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.