July 29, 1995 | Santa Fe Opera
Modern Painters
Composer:David Lang
Librettist:Manuela Hoelterhoff
The opera revolves around Ruskin's unconsummated marriage to his young cousin, Effie Gray. A wedding night scene shows Ruskin devastated by the discovery that a female body, in the flesh, cannot compare with the perfection of classical sculpture. An equally frustrated Effie turns to the pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais, with whom she falls in love and later marries. Meanwhile, Ruskin becomes obsessed with 13-year-old Rose La Touche. Her mother goes to Effie and Millais for help, and Effie vows to spread a national scandal and "see him to the gates of hell." The final scene finds the mentally crippled Ruskin vainly lecturing a worker audience and ranting about his own hates and desires. A female chorus sympathetically grants him peace and lets him die.

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Santa Fe OperaModern Painters7/29/1995 - 8/11/1995

OPERA America/Opera.ca Grants Awarded
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Opera for a New America 1993

Title Information

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Approximate Runtime (hh:mm)

Musical Style
Alternates between minimalism and chordal lyricism that evokes Copland and Bernstein; repetitive melodies; through-composed; conventional instrumentation; aggressive percussion

Vocal & Musical Forces
3 Baritones, 2 Basses, Mezzo-Soprano, 4 Tenors, Chorus, Lyric Soprano, Dramatic Tenor, Character Soprano, 2 silent roles

Original Cast
François Le Roux (John Ruskin)
Ann Panagualias (Effie Gray, Ruskin's wife)
Sheila Nadler (Ruskin's Mother)
Dale Travis (Ruskin's Father)
Judith Christin (Effie's Mother)
Mark Thomsen (John Everett Millais, Ruskin's best friend)
Margaret Mack (Mrs. La Touche)
Kathryn Crosman
Barry Busse

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