Set in Kansas in 1930, The Tender Land combines the charms of rural Americana with a tale of innocence lost.

Generously supported by Ronald Thow and Carolyn V. Thow

In the American heartland during the Great Depression, the provincial existence of a rural farming family hinges upon the high school graduation of the eldest daughter, Laurie Moss. However, on the eve of her graduation, Laurie finds herself questioning her place in the world and wondering what kind of life she could lead if she were to leave the farm. Her restlessness is fueled by two drifters, Top and Martin, who are hired to help with the harvest.

While Ma and Grandpa Moss are suspicious of the strangers, Laurie is captivated by their vivid tales of travel, and she and Martin quickly fall in love, culminating in a tender kiss at Laurie’s graduation party. Grandpa Moss, furious, banishes the two men, leading Martin and Laurie to make plans to elope, but Martin quickly realizes that this would cause trouble for all involved, and reluctantly sneaks away before daybreak. Heartbroken, Laurie realizes that, though now alone, it is still time for her to go. She bids farewell to the farm and sets off into the unknown, leaving her weeping family to completely reassess their hopes, dreams, and plans for the future.

A vivid portrait of the rural mid-west, The Tender Land is painted richly with Copland’s quintessentially American harmonies and tells a beautiful and simple story of a young woman’s coming of age.

Sung in English with supertitles.


A note from the Producer

Welcome to the UCF Opera production of Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land. The performance you see and hear today results from the work and dedication of many a person. The students (UCF voice, dance, and instrumental students and the younger students from the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra) and the creative team listed here in the program all have worked many hours to bring you this evening/afternoon of beautiful sights and sounds. For the next couple of hours, try to forget about your cell phones and the stress of work/school, and allow yourself to breathe easily and deeply as you fall into the simpler life of midwestern farm country in the 1930s. As you will see, there are problems and challenges even within that simpler lifestyle, but my challenge to you is to allow/encourage your blood pressure to settle down and to be receptive to and focused on the music, words, images and movements on stage.

—Thomas Potter, producer


A note from the Stage Director

The Tender Land is a different kind of opera. The form is often used by composers to energize and excite, whereas Copland and librettist Horace Everett have crafted this work to offer up instead vignettes of life during the Great Depression, though there is no mention of the actual era or exact location – elements that do make for a more universal setting. And rather than being based on action, as many operas are, this one is more reflective; built around themes, both musical and dramatic.
The musical themes are quintessentially Copland – teeming with Americana yet longing for simplicity. There is nothing pretentious about The Tender Land. Even our orchestration for this production – for 13 players – is sparse and economical.
Dramatically, we find themes drawn from Midwestern life experiences that harken back to slower times – before social media and smart-phones. Yet, these themes do still strike a chord today: the promise of something better; the perils of over-protection of loved ones; longing for a larger life; loneliness; and suspicion of strangers. These are all themes that we can reflect upon as we enjoy the fruits of our young performers from UCF. For many of them, this will be their first time onstage, and it has been my great pleasure as a guest director to help guide them toward their promise as well!

—Robert Swedberg, stage director


Creative Team

Thomas Potter# Producer
Robin Jensen# Music Director
Robert Swedberg† Stage Director
Hanrich Claassen† Conductor
Sarah Nicholson Stage Manager
Lisa Buck† Scenic/Projections Designer
Waylon Lemasters† Technical Director/Carpenter
Bobbie Demme-San Filippo† Costume Designer
Jon Whiteley† Lighting Designer
Alaric Frinzi Choreographer
David Brancato† Videographer



Nishaa Carson Laurie
Lisamarie Guadalupe [Friday] Ma Moss
Gayssie Lugo [Sunday] Ma Moss
Alyssa Cassidy Beth Moss
Jose-Manuel Lopez Grandpa Moss
Yuting Zhang Martin
Matthew Fackler Top
Brian Inerfeld Mr. Splinters
Gayssie Lugo [Friday] Mrs. Splinters
Lisamarie Guadalupe [Sunday] Mrs. Splinters
David Goodwill Mr. Jenks
Sarah Brickeen Mrs. Jenks
Party Guests:
Thomas Brodrecht Singer
Zaria Modeste Singer
Avery Richards Singer
Ben Watson Singer
Brian Alford Dancer
Giulia Falabella Dancer
Macoy Stewart Dancer
Lauren Stromack Dancer



Madeleine Smith, George Lawson* 1st Violin
Alyssa Orantes*, Liam Dominguez* 2nd Violin
Molly Pope*, Kayla Smith* Viola
Christopher Everett Cruz, Lili Pope* Cello
Edwin Rivera Double Bass
Olivia Browdy Flute
Renzo DeCarlo* Clarinet
Yoon Joo Hwang# Bassoon
Robin Jensen# Keyboard


All personnel are UCF students unless denoted.
*Members of Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra †Community member
#UCF faculty or alumni


Special Thanks

UCF Opera Board Members: Linsey Duca [Student], Lisamarie Guadalupe [Student], Robin Jensen, Judy Lee, Treva Marshall [President], Ginny Osborne, Mary Palmer, Sibille Pritchard, Kara Richardson, Deede Sharpe, Rita Wilkes
Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra Executive Director: Heide Evans Waldron
Mad Cow Theatre — Mitzi Maxwell, Executive Director, and Waylon Lemasters, Technical Director — for the use of props and set construction.

Performance Schedule

  • Friday, April 12, 2019, 8:00  p.m.
  • Sunday, April 14, 2019, 2:00  p.m.
  • Friday, April 12, 2019, 8:00  p.m.
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