The Reviews are in for Kristine McIntyre’s “The Tender Land” at Michigan Opera Theatre!
MOT Brings Populist Opera to the People with Copland’s The Tender Land
“No 20th Century composer understood heartland America better than Aaron Copland. No composer championed the common man the way Copland did. The music for his opera The Tender Land, the current Michigan Opera Theatre production, echoes the thrum of the plow, the rustle of dry grain, the creak of aching bones and the trill of a meadowlark. Its tempo is paced to the setting sun and the pulse of hearts that yearn for something they cannot name. Aaron Copland’s heartfelt music and a quintessentially American story make this production of The Tender Land by Michigan Opera Theatre one for the “must see” list. The Tender Land is an intimate, unsentimental treatment of New Deal-era America and the hard living eked out by those in the isolated farming communities that dotted the Midwest. It’s a perfect choice for MOT’s second annual community-initiative opera… This MOT production of The Tender Land is a rare treat that area patrons should rush to see.”
-Patty Nolan, Detroit Examiner
MOT’s Tender Land Evokes the American Heartland
“Michigan Opera Theatre’s push beyond the borders of the Detroit Opera House has been couched in terms of audience building, but it’s also paying artistic dividends by opening doors to modern and contemporary American repertoire that doesn’t fit comfortably within the company’s 2,700-seat downtown home… MOT’s alluring new production of Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land (1954), which opened Saturday at the Macomb Center and moves to Taylor this weekend, is likewise too intimate for the opera house. Copland’s only full-length opera, The Tender Land tells a coming-of-age tale a young woman on a Midwestern farm in the 1930s. She’s caught between the smothering expectations of her family and her dreams of life and love beyond the borders of her rural town. Dramatic and musical flaws have kept the opera from cracking the standard repertoire. But MOT’s rewarding production — highlighted by an energetic young cast and Monika Essen’s attractive set design of blue sky, golden fields and functional A-frame structures — honors the best intentions of Copland’s elegiac scores and Erik Johns’ uneven libretto. The production makes a persuasive case that the opera deserves a higher profile.”
-Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press
The Tender Land: Copland’s Look at Small-Town Life
“Michigan Opera Theatre’s fine new production offers a chance to look at this somewhat lesser known piece from many angles. But most of all, it is a beautifully rendered, well sung, visually appealing night (or day) of music theatre.
The simple but gorgeous production design by Monika Essen and lighting by Marcus Dilliard present a peach-colored dream of a Midwestern farm. In this time and place we meet the Moss family, their friends, and two strangers.
Kristine McIntyre has guided the young cast well and staged the movement wonderfully. Of particular note is the second-act party, brimming with life and activity.
This is the third time Michigan Opera Theatre has produced this opera… This time around it’s also a highlight of another innovative MOT project, the Michigan Opera Theatre Studio, giving us a glimpse of young talent who, like Laurie, are just starting their journey. We look forward to where that will take them.”
-Amy J. Parrent, Encore Michigan