Brokeback Mountain

Opera in Two Acts - Libretto by Annie Proulx, based on her short story

About The Opera

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. 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."

In a decidedly different approach than the film adaptation, Wuorinen creates a grittier atmosphere. The story and characters have been tightly condensed by Proulx. In reference to the genesis of the story Proulx has written "'Brokeback' was constructed on the small but tight idea of a couple of home-grown country kids, opinions and self-knowledge shaped by the world around them, finding themselves in emotional waters of increasing depth. I wanted to develop the story through a kind of literary sostenente."

In approaching the work for the stage Wuorinen writes "The music of Brokeback Mountain conveys the harsh magnificence of the Mountain where the protagonists first meet. Visiting Annie in Wyoming, seeing the land where the story is set and the characters shaped was invaluable, and it made a deep impression on me. Sometimes the score evokes the icy clarity of the high-altitude freedom the characters enjoy there. But the Mountain also breathes and storms, and the music projects this turbulence as well—especially when it transfers into the interior lives of the characters and their interactions in the human world. And the tragedy of the two principals, their doomed love, calls forth the most lyrical flights in the score."

Program Notes by Robert Kirzinger

Brokeback Mountain is the American composer Charles Wuorinen’s third opera, based on a short story by the Pulitzer Prize-winning American author Annie Proulx. Originally published in The New Yorker magazine in 1997, the story was made into a film by director Ang Lee and reached U.S. theaters in late 2005. The film version called the story to Wuorinen’s attention and first suggested possibilities for an opera. Although ultimately co-commissioned by Madrid’s Teatro Real, discussions for the opera’s first production had originally begun with New York City Opera, which a few years before had staged Wuorinen’s acclaimed Haroun and the Sea of Stories, based on Salmon Rushdie’s children’s book. Unlike Brokeback Mountain, Haroun and an earlier opera, The W. of Babylon, are comedies.

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Production Details

Cast list, scene breakdown and instrumentation.

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Critial Acclaim for Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain was received with vast critical acclaim throughout the world. View some of the press.

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