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The Sunday Opera: Ricky Ian Gordon's "Grapes of Wrath"

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We’re coming back to America for this week’s Sunday Opera (5/29 3:00 p.m.) with Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie’s 2007 operatic setting of John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel “The Grapes of Wrath” which focuses on the hardships of the Joad family who migrate from their dustbowl farm in the hopes of finding work and new lives. The work was commissioned by the Minnesota Opera, and it is to that original cast to which we’ll be listening perform this often harrowing story.

Our cast includes Brian Leehuber as Tom Joad, Deanne Meek as Ma Joad, Kelly Kaduce as Tom’s pregnant sister Rosasharn, Roger Honeywell as the lapsed preacher Jim Casey, and Peter Halverson as Pa Jode. Other cast members include Andrew Wilkowske as Tom’s handicapped brother Noah, Rosalind Elias as Gramma, Dan Dressen as Grampa, and Jesse Blumberg as Rosasharn’s husband, Connie. The Minnesota Opera Chorus and Orchestra are conducted by Grant Gershon.

We’ll continue with American music after the opera with works by Samuel Barber and Aaron Copland.

From Barber, we’ll hear his much-loved Knoxville Summer of 1915 which is a setting of the highly evocative work by James Agee, a prose-poem Agee reportedly wrote in 90 minutes. It will be sung by the soprano who commissioned it, Eleanor Steber, who is joined by the Dumbarton Oaks Chamber Orchestra conducted by William Strickland.

Our second work is the charming Short Symphony No. 2 of Copland performed by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

If you find you need a break from the festivities on this Memorial Day weekend, grab some snacks, and drop in for an afternoon of some excellent American music.

Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.
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