The “Brokeback Mountain” Opera Is Really Happening — Watch A Clip

Romeo & Juliet. La Traviata. Aida. Oedipus Rex. Many of the greatest operas tell the tale of tragic love, and now a new one joins the list: Brokeback Mountain.

Really? Who thought this would be a good idea?

Daniel Okulitch (top) and Tom Randle (bottom) in 'Brokeback Mountain' at Teatro Real in Madrid, Spain.
Daniel Okulitch (top) and Tom Randle (bottom) in ‘Brokeback Mountain’ at Teatro Real in Madrid, Spain.

Charles Wuorinen, that’s who. (Click that link to see him interviewed, along with clips of the production.) Wuorinen is a composer who spent years creating an operatic version Brokeback after he saw Ang Lee’s film about Ennis and Jack, two men who are hired to herd a flock of sheep and accidentally fall in love with each other, and he thought the story was the perfect tale of love gone wrong.

Brokeback Mountain, as a film, has already earned a permanent place in the cultural fabric of America after winning several Oscars, as well as drawing a surprisingly nice box office profit. But even fans may view the story — about sheepherders, set in the beautiful but stark mountains of Wyoming — as a tough choice for an opera, a theatrical experience already viewed by opera non-fans as uptight and, well, boring.

Actually, the plot actually fits lends itself to opera perfectly. Based on a short story by Annie Proulx, Brokeback Mountain is really about two people who struggle with the exquisite pain of falling in love with each other, while living in a world that forces them to stay apart. The libretto — a.k.a., the words — of the opera was written by Proulx herself, so it should stay true to the original story that launched the Brokeback empire.

Although there are some noticeable differences. Sadly, this opera version won’t have any actual sheep on stage, as that would be a logistical nightmare. There’s also apparently very little of the marvelously graphic sex that is depicted in the movie, and to an extent in the original story.  But thanks to lighting trickery, everyone knows what’s going on. For whatever it’s worth, the actor who plays Ennis, Daniel Okulitch, dropped trou in the operatic adaptation of The Fly (link NSFW, if your boss will get mad about seeing peen in the theeatah).

The opera opens Jan. 28 in Madrid at Teatro Real.

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  • che3200

    You can watch the whole opera at starting Feb 7 at 2pm. Set your calendars

  • bmwblonde

    How brainwashed can so many gays be? The film Brokeback Mountain was JUST ANOTHER frigging “the poor things, they are sad, powerless and DOOMED” movie, made worse by being so filmed so “prettily” by Ang Lee. Middle class audiences could easily be “sympathetic” with those poor tragic dumb ass cowboys stupid enough to fall in love in redneck Wyoming (or wherever). If the protagonists are DOOMED, no one has to get all uncomfy about us actually showing up as SUCCESSFUL (in life, love, etc.) Thus all the comfy straight stereotypes got happily patted on the butt so everyone could be all nice and White Liberal (and remain at best not only condescending, but all feel all good and kind about that). UGH.

    What a pain in the ass that movie is. Not much better than all other zillions of faggots-as-victims movies, and actually worse due to hypnotizing good production values.

    As for Opera, I am pre-wincing. Maybe the music and/or singing will help redeem the bigoted, stereotyping train wreck of a Libretto (script).

  • CCTR

    @bmwblonde: you were not the target audience… there are other movies and operas to choose from

  • Bad Ass Biker

    @bmwblonde: If that is your attitude, then maybe you should forego seeing the opera.

  • Grayant

    I’m gay and have been for ages, and Brokeback was the most powerful movie experience I’ve ever had. It allowed me to grieve for years of loneliness and feeling like I had to be a certain type of person to be “gay.” You may not feel like a victim, and that’s great. But I feel like being gay has been hard for me in significant ways to due the stereotypes of gay people and out oppressed minority status. Brokeback helped me to understand that better and to get past it some. I appreciate your point of view, but I urge you to be more open to other people’s perceptions and experiences.

  • barkomatic

    I agree that the subject matter is definitely opera material — but the movie was so good and is such a classic (with an awesome soundtrack) it would be hard to then switch gears and watch it performed as an opera.

  • flamegal

    Agree 100%!!

    I’m a lesbian and Brokeback Mountain is just another example of “Oh, look at the poor gays / lesbians die or commit suicide or murder.”

    Enough of that bullshit. It just makes straight people comfortable with us as pathetic stereotypes.

    As Elizabeth Banks said, showing us gay people SUCCESSFUL, HAPPY, LAUGHING and in LOVE is what really motivates our COMMUNITY. Wins us allies and wins us equality.
    Wins us mental health and strength.

  • sejjo

    @bmwblonde: Anyone who lives in a society where his or her love is forbidden is a ‘poor thing’, whether it be people of different religions, races or people of the same sex. However, you need to learn more about movies and art in general if you think movies are only about what they show on the screen, especially the parts in your unceremonious ramble where you pontificate about the movie ostensibly suggesting that gay people are ‘powerless’ and ‘doomed’ things.

    Were you ever taught how to read, understand and interpret a poem? I always ask this question to people who don’t appreciate great art.

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