Opera to tell stories of small town lives


Having premiered in 2000 at the Houston Grand Opera, “Cold Sassy Tree” will return to UH on Friday at the Moores Opera Center to showcase its story of love and nostalgia. | Courtesy of Bruce Duffie

The nostalgic story of “Cold Sassy Tree” has returned home to Houston with its cast of lovable and relatable characters, who tell their tales of heartbreak and exploration and let go of old grudges.

Director of the Moores Opera Center Buck Ross describes “Cold Sassy Tree” as a warm, wise and nostalgic comedy about small-town life in Georgia at the turn of the 20th century.

“The opera was written in English by a former UH professor, Carlisle Floyd, who is considered the dean of American opera composers,” Ross said. “If you like going to the theater or to a movie, you’ll be drawn in by the story.”

Love Simpson, played by performance junior Emily Louise Robinson, presents herself as a high-class individual who places a lot of importance on her image.

Love has worked hard to create a positive image of herself after enduring a “difficult childhood of not just poverty but some pretty serious trauma.”

“I believe that Love’s materialistic appearance is a protective armor,” Robinson said. “Beyond the walls that Love has put up to protect herself from the world, she is incredibly vulnerable and kind. She is just trying to let go of her past.”

First year master’s performance student Alex Scheuermann plays Will Tweedy. Will appears at both 15 and 25 years old in the opera.

“The 15-year-old Will is trying to understand love, religion and loss,” Scheuermann said. “He is ignorant and innocent and learns about life from his free-spirited grandpa and his experiences in exploring friendship and sexuality.”

Older Will Tweedy is the narrator of the opera as he looks back into his memories as a younger man.

“He fondly remembers the excitement of youth, where every day brought a new adventure,” Scheuermann said.

It will be easy for UH students to relate to this piece, specifically to the character of Will Tweedy, because even young people feel nostalgia for their earlier years, Ross said.

Music marketing senior Rachel Walrath is the stage manager.

“The audience members can expect to see the set as imaginary, dream-like and stylized as memories,” Walrath said.

Chorus member and vocal performance junior Whitney Robinson said the storyline will keep the audience’s attention, and and to top it all off, there will be balloons.

The opera will begin at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Monday and at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Moores Opera Center.

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