Brokeback Mountain: the opera is set to make its debut in Madrid this month. Although the operatic adaptation was commissioned by Gerard Mortier for the New York City Opera six years ago, Mortier brought the project to Madrid when he began a new post as the general director of Madrid’s Teatro Real.
The short story by Annie Proulx and the Oscar-winning film by Ang Lee both influenced the opera. Film taken of the Wyoming Mountains that inspired the story will be projected onto the background onstage.
The opera’s composer, Charles Wuorinen, was interested in adapting the short story Brokeback Mountain since 2007. The author, Annie Proulx, offered to write the libretto. “Ever since encountering Annie Proulx’s extraordinary story,” Wuorinen said, “I have wanted to make an opera on it.”
Despite the film’s prominence, the opera will not simply be a different version of the film. The opera’s director Ivo van Hove recently told The Guardian that the opera was “not an adaptation of a movie on stage”, adding: “The women are much more explored, and the society around them is much more important.”
Daniel Okulitch and Tom Randle, both from North America, were cast in the leading roles. With two North American lead singers, van Hove isn’t worried about the performance seeming like a cowboy cliché. “With these two guys, it was never like that,” he said. “We didn’t have to talk about it.”
The opera will run from January 28th to February 11th at Madrid’s Teatro Real.