The Tender Land Reviews
The Tender Land, March 2016
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Tom Seubert – Roseville
Overall, a good production. Macomb Center helped pull off a good show. It is worth seeing, and it was vintage Aaron Copland. The only downer is the plot: at the end it becomes clear why this is not more popular. But we would see it again.
Carol DeBeaussaert – Shelby Township
The opera was wonderful. My only complaint was the music, while beautiful, was too loud and over powered the singers much of the time. We sat in the first row balcony and if it wasn’t for the captioning above the stage, we wouldn’t have been able to tell what was being sung. The singers, when heard, were awesome. The musicians were also first rate, just too loud. I would love to see this again if that balance problem was worked out.
Mary Ellen – Saginaw
I thoroughly enjoyed the instrumental music, the young performers, and the set. I did not particularly care for the fact that most of the singing was “sing-talking” rather than songs…but that’s Copeland’s doing, not MOT’s. Best was the piece in the first act (not sure of its title, “Promise”?) when all the main characters sang together.
Adrian Cho – Grosse Pointe Woods
We really enjoyed The Tender Land. It’s a thoroughly American tale, with simple, inviting feel conveyed mainly by Copland’s unmistakable style. The song “The Promise of Living” at the end of the first act is just beautiful. But the open feel is also accentuated by simple, sparse set, which to me looked like something out of Steinbeck. Angela Theis and Joseph Michael Brent really sparkled as the leads, Laurie and Martin. They had a natural and convincing chemistry and inhabited their roles to a degree remarkable for an opera. I’d agree with another comment that at the end the plot takes a turn that’s not quite true to the rest story. But that gave us plenty to talk about afterwards.
Christopher Cavazos – Southfield
Performance = A+
I was fortunate enough to experience the Tender Land at WCCC. This production featured the future performers we all will enjoy for decades to come. Knowing that information beforehand gave me the ability to enjoy the show for a different reason. That reason for me is to support young artists who are the future of the theater and opera. Obviously everyone wants to be dazzled by big name performers, elaborate sets, and world renowned orchestras. I get that but sometimes you have to experience a classic tale that is slower to appreciate the more involved shows. Personally in today’s day and age I think we should reflect on this and consider slowing down our own lives. Thanks for providing our communities with the opportunity to experience such a wonderful form of art.
Rad Smith – Ann Arbor
Thirty-eight years ago, my wife and I attended the performance of The Tender Land in Midland. It was wonderful to hear the great music brought to life again yesterday in the Prechter Center. The singers were all well-cast and were a treat to hear. The chamber orchestra carried off their part with verve. A full orchestra would have enhannced the production, but was not seriously missed.
Thomas Taylor – Ann Arbor
We enjoyed your afternoon at the opera. Had heard many times about cropland’s opera, so jumped at the chance to witness a fine production at last. In spite of being dated in story – particularly the ending – it’s a good choice for presenting young singers with a small ensemble in the pit. The set was terrific – just right for the theme and period, although the fully grown and dried Fall corn crop didn’t quite fit with the “Spring harvest” spoken of in the text. The downriver production had a fine balance between voices and instrumental ensemble and Copland’s clean textures were faithfully and artistically rendered.
Excellent singing, staging, inhabiting of characters – the part of Beth was particularly well and touchingly played.
Why Laurie decides to leave home and miss her graduation ceremony is impossible to portray. The text just doesn’t support that decision. I would have been tempted to use that ending instrumental conclusion to have her come back and hug her family at the very end. Otherwise, where was she going? How was she going to support herself? Isn’t needing to make the break why we all went off to college or a first job after graduation?
I would have been interested to know how many in the audience were at an MOT production for the first time as a result of this outreach venture. Are there other simple Americana operas you might try for this purpose? Perhaps Kurt Weill’s “Down in the Valley?”
Thanks for the enjoyable afternoon. The $50 seemed a bit steep for what we got, but I know you have to balance your budget.
Janet – Grosse Pointe
The singers, musicians, venue – outstanding. The music was unexciting. I expected better from Copland.
Pamela A. Frucci – Grosse Ile
I would have liked to have heard more tuneful tunes! But the talent on stage was outstanding, the set most creative, the plot a little weak, but definitely worth seeing.
Jack Cederquist – Ann Arbor
Many thanks to MOT for producing this opera and in an outreach location. Set, music, singing, acting and dancing were all excellent. Extra credit to Angela Theis for her Laurie and Lacey Cooper for her Beth. Beth is not a singing role but has an important role in many scenes. Lacey brought the opera to an emotional conclusion. And, no, I don’t have any connection to her! I sat in the fifth row on the side and could understand most of what was sung without consulting the captions. Apparently that was not true in the balcony.
Anne – Flat Rock
My husband an I took our 13yr old grandaughter Sunday to the Wayne County performance. The performance was outstanding, and the theatre is very comfortable. Our grandaughter loves plays and singing. This presentation was easy on the pocketbook. Hope you will do more shows Downriver. Thank you