'Brokeback Mountain' the Opera Seems Like an Oxymoron but It Could Work
Let all the "yodelayheehoo" jokes commence immediately, because your favorite love story about homosexuality and repression is coming to the stage. Brokeback Mountain will be performed in Madrid's Teatro Real Opera House starting Jan. 28 and running through Feb. 11. Now, if you are like me and find the concept of a cowboy opera challenging, well, clearly we just don't get it. Annie Proulx, the author of the original short story, has said that doing the story as an opera will "give room, which the short story did not, and which the film was not particularly interested in doing" to the tragic love story of Ennis and Jack.
So.... it's gonna be really good? The idea of a story about repressing one's inner homosexuality staged in the most dramatic form of theater with men singing loudly in cowboy outfits seems a little antithetical, but Annie Proulx gets it and she wrote the thing, so let's assume she's in the right.
The fact is that although the idea of a Brokeback Opera is challenging, the beauty of the story and uniqueness of its characters will make for a really revolutionary opera, regardless of how it turns out. I just wonder how the sense of sparseness that is so important in both the short story and the movie will be played out onstage, let alone as opera and also, where exactly is there space in the opera for the hardcore dude-on-dude action that the title evokes?
I mean, with all due respect to the power of the tale, one expects a little bareback on Brokeback Mountain, and somehow I don't see the audience at the Teatro Real Opera House going in for straight up humping on the mainstage, given the rather aristocratic population that makes up the majority of opera-goers. So although I'm sure the steamier scenes will be handled with the utmost taste and delicacy, there is only so much you can do to obscure the fact that two guys are meant to be bumming each other as an entire audience, made up of an older and more conservative crowd, looks on.
Who knows. The power of the music and its all-star composer Charles Wuorinen might simply break through any barriers the nature of the story presents. However, what we can be sure of is that if ever you needed an excuse to book a last minute flight to Madrid, telling your friends and co-workers that you just had to see the opera adaptation of Brokeback Mountain is as good an excuse as any.
Image: Focus Features