CHARLES WUORINEN (b.1938): Brokeback Mountain.
Catalogue Number: 04Q092
Label: Bel Air Classiques
Description: Annie Proulx wrote the libretto for this adaptation of her tale of the doomed love of two men in rural Wyoming, unthinkable in the context of the homophobic, macho frontier culture that persists to this day. Admirers of the acclaimed movie will be interested to note that Proulx herself regards the opera as less superficial, and a fuller realization of the psychological depths of her story, and Wuorinen points out that the Wyoming landscape, especially the disturbingly named jagged Rocky Mountain peak of the title, is not picturesque and welcoming, but inhospitable and forbidding, mirroring the society that renders the protagonists' love hopeless from the start. The mountain is a character in the opera, with its own threatening theme, heard at the outset of the overture, and recurring as a leitmotif underpinning the narrative. Wuorinen's uncompromising dodecaphonic idiom might seem an unlikely match for a tragic love story, but in fact it succeeds by minimising any suggestion of sentimentality, allowing the tormented uncertainty of the characters - Jack, who knows what he is and knows its dangers, and tongue-tied Ennis, traumatised by an early experience of homophobic brutality and unable to express his feelings without inner turmoil - to be fully explored. Wuorinen's clarity of delineation of character and mood through beautiful, eloquent vocal lines, precisely projecting the characters' emotional state, is masterly, as is the inventive orchestration, somehow suggesting, at appropriate points, unsophisticated society that has never even heard of a concert hall or opera house, without compromising the rigorous structured complexity of the music. The production is visually striking, with the action in realistic costumes and stylized, minimal sets, taking place in front of a huge projected backdrop showing images of the vast, uncaring Wyoming landscape. Filmed with an eye to this perspective but with close views as appropriate to involve the viewer in the human scale of the drama. Daniel Okulitch (bass-baritone), Tom Randle (tenor), Heather Buck (soprano), Hannah Esther Minutillo (mezzo), Orchestra and Chorus Teatro Real de Madrid; Titus Engel. 16:9 widescreen. NTSC region 0. PCM stereo or Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. 130 min. + 20 min. bonus