May 24, 2017

‘The Tender Land' caps distinguished NU residency for Ehrman

scenes from The Tender Land

Northwestern University Opera Theater presented Aaron Copland's Depression-era love story "The Tender Land" May 18-21 in Cahn Auditorium, marking Michael Ehrman's final production at the Bienen School of Music as director of opera and artist-in-residence.

Chicago Tribune’s John von Rhein noted Ehrman’s dedicated attention to American opera throughout his distinguished residency at Northwestern, which began in fall 2011. Ehrman also served as director of opera at the School of Music from 1996-2000.

Von Rhein commended the Bienen students on their “solid” vocal performances: “The strongest performer was baritone Eric Olson, fully into his role as Top, the more commonsensical of the two strangers who threaten the orderly calm of a small farming community. Kaileigh Riess made an appealing, fresh-voiced Laurie, the dreamy heroine who, on the eve of her high school graduation, falls in love with a migrant farm hand whom she identifies with her need to escape to a life of her own. Tenor Ricky Feng Nan sang brightly and cut a romantic figure as Laurie's fickle lover, Martin. Melina Jaharis brought a rich contralto to Ma Moss, Laurie's widowed mother, who lives an unrealized life through her daughters. Bass-baritone Eric McConnell sang sturdily as the overprotective Grandpa Moss, and Olivia Prendergast was a spunky Beth, Laurie's younger sister.”

Review the full Chicago Tribune review online

Photos: Scenes from ‘The Tender Land’ (from left) Ricky Feng Nan as Martin with Eric Olson as Top; Melina Jaharis as Ma Moss with Kaileigh Riess as Laurie; and Olivia Prendergast as Beth with Eric McConnell as Grandpa Moss. All photos by Carl Alexander.