The Locusts Are Coming!

The locusts are coming!!! Well, at least Locust: The Opera (an environmental murder mystery with music by Anne Guzzo, libretto by Jeff Lockwood, and set/costumes by Ashley Carlisle) is coming to Laramie. And bringing an opera to the high plains of Wyoming raises some eyebrows and questions.

Laramie—really? Well, yes. For centuries opera was the performance art of the people, rather than the wealthy elites. The nobility was often satirized, resulting in some wonderfully uncomfortable sociopolitical tensions (not that I’d ever engage in subversive ventures to challenge those in power). Only in the mid-20th century did opera become the purview of affluent audiences. Laramie is short on aristocrats but filled with real people (I suppose that an audience at the Met has real people, too, but we’re not expecting many tuxedos beyond the orchestra).

Can the public really enjoy opera? Locust was written to engage first-timers, as well as appeal to aficionados. We were committed to making this accessible—not facile or simplistic—by telling a good story in under an hour with the lyrics projected for the audience during the performance. The opera features memorable music and audience immersion (people create the sounds of arriving swarms and rainstorms). Our previous experiences suggest that diverse people derive various meanings—kids might see a Disney Princess Locust, while adults confront questions of human values and our future as a species.

An opera in the community’s Civic Center? Absolutely! The Gryphon Theatre is historic, graceful, and central to the town. Sure, the university has lovely performing spaces, but having an opera on campus sends a message: This is not for the commoners. Our passion is to bring beautiful art to the community, to our friends and neighbors—as well as our academic colleagues. If art is to flourish in our town, state, nation, and world, we must engage our publics (there is not some single, monolithic “public” but all sorts of people with various experiences).

And so, Locust: The Opera will be performed on Saturday, October 5th, at 7:30 pm (doors open at 7:00 for drinks and socializing). We’re featuring the Colorado Chamber Orchestra along with UW musicians, and three of the absolute finest operatic voices to be found in the Rocky Mountain region. Go to the Gryphon’s calendar (https://www.gryphontheatre.org/calendar/), scroll down to October 5th, and click on “Tickets” to be part of the swarm that descends on Laramie that evening.

#opera #History #Wyoming #nature

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This is the personal site of Jeffrey A. Lockwood, award-winning author and University of Wyoming professor of Natural Sciences and Humanities. Lockwood is the recipient of both the Pushcart Prize and the John Burroughs Medal.

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