Rarely do new operas get such rave reviews and national attention, but that’s just what happened when The Grapes of Wrath opened in Minnesota in February to a full house. Now the opera will begin its journey west to continue the world premiere with Utah Opera who co-commissioned the work. The opera comes to Capitol Theatre May 12, 14, 16, 18 and 20. With all eyes now on Utah Opera to continue the success of this operatic event, intense preparations have begun. Opera Today says, ‘The Grapes of Wrath is of epic sweep and of mesmerizing grandeur.’
Three years in the making, The Grapes of Wrath will finally come alive on-stage in Salt Lake City. Not since Dreamkeepers opened in 1996 has Utah Opera commissioned a new production. New opera’s are often expensive, but the $1.8 million dollar cost of this impressive production was shared between Minnesota Opera and Utah Opera. The Star Tribune says, ‘Smart, funny, touching, and harrowing.’
The Grapes of Wrath was derived from Steinbeck’s epic novel. Academy Award-winning director Eric Simonson will take the audience on a journey with the Joad family during the Great Depression as they make their exodus from the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma to a ‘land of milk and honey’ in California. Composer Ricky Ian Gordon’s soaring and deeply-felt melodies combine with Steinbeck’s words to create a fitting musical setting for this American classic. ‘Grapes [is] ripe with the essence of Steinbeck,’ claims The Los Angeles Times..
The New Yorker stated, ‘You couldn’t ask for a more comfortably appointed evening of vintage musical Americana,’ then added, ‘a handsome, flexible production. Each geographical setting – the Dust Bowl, Route 66, Endicott Canneries, a Hooverville – was established in quick, crisp strokes.’
The Los Angeles Times claimed, ‘Composer Ricky Ian Gordon has merged Broadway and opera in his outstanding production of the classic American novel,’ and ‘Gordon’s Grapes of Wrath, with a strong, literate libretto by Michael Korie, is a success. The production by Eric Simonson is first-rate. The cast of about 50 is outstanding.’
The Deseret Morning News said The Grapes of Wrath is ‘gripping and mesmerizing and transports the audience into its world,’ and goes on to say, ‘Gordon and Korie have created a powerful work that can stand alongside any opera written in the past 50 years for its sheer impact.’