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Tender Land

Photo: National Public Radio

University of Kansas Theatre and School of Fine Arts

Copland, Aaron

The Tender Land (1952-54, rev.1955)

Duration: 100 minutes

Opera in three acts

English   Deutsch  

Libretto by Horace Everett (E)


2S,M,A,2T,2Bar,B,speaker; chorus 2(II=picc).1.corA.2(II=bcl).2- xyl/susp.cym/ratchet/BD/slap stick/tabor/sandpaper-harp-pft(ad lib)- strings Chamber version by Murry Sidlin (1987):

Abbreviations (PDF)


This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

World Premiere
City Center, New York, NY
Jerome Robbins, director
Conductor: Thomas Schippers
Company: New York City Opera

World premiere of version
Oberlin College
Company: Oberlin Conservatory Opera Laboratory


LAURIE MOSS, the older sister (17-19 years old) Soprano
MA MOSS Contralto
BETH MOSS, the younger sister (8-12 years old) speaking role
MARTIN, a drifter Tenor
TOP, a drifter Baritone
MR. SPLINTERS, the postman Tenor
MRS. SPLINTERS Mezzo-Soprano
MR. JENKS Baritone
MRS. JENKS Soprano
Party Guests (four or more couples)

Time and Place

Spring in the early 1930's- a lower middle class farm in the mid-west.


The isolated world of a rural family turns around the graduation of its elder daughter. Yet, she is unsure of her place in that world. It is invaded by a threat and then an actuality of two outsiders who excite in the girl dreams of a larger life. The boys are accepted into the community as harvesters.

At a party on the eve before graduation, one of them falls in love with the girl. Grandpa discovers the match, and the boys are ordered away. The boy and girl plan an elopement at daybreak, but the boy, attacked by fears of responsibility abetted by forebodings of his companion, flees. The girl’s anticipation of fulfillment turns to despair when she finds the boys gone. Her family, who remind her of graduation and the pattern of her life, consoles her. But she realizes that the time has come to break that pattern and assert her own being. Though accepting, the mother does not recognize the woman her daughter has become. And as the girl goes to find her own life, the mother turns to her younger daughter knowing that one responsibility has ended and another has begun.


Dramatic, Romantic


Relationships, Society

Recommended Recording

Elisabeth Comeaux, Janis Hardy, Maria Jette, LeRoy Lehr, Dan Dressen, James Bohn, Vern Sutton, Agnes Smuda, Merle Fristad, Sue Herber, Plymouth Music Series Chorus, Plymouth Music Series Orchestra, Philip Brunelle
Virgin Classics VCD7592532

Click here to purchase this CD from Amazon

Tender Land

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