Riders of the Purple Sage
Composer: Craig Bohmler
Composer Bio: Based in Phoenix, Craig Bohmler is a devoted composer for the stage whose works, including four operas and ten musicals, have been widely performed in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan. Recent projects include The Haunting of Winchester, which opened the San Jose Repertory Theatre’s 25th anniversary season; The Quiltmaker’s Gift, commissioned by the Phoenix Theatre and now enjoying its 25th production; and Sacagawea, based on the Lewis and Clark story and supported by a National Endowment for the Arts grant. Bohmler’s Enter the Guardsman won the grand prize in the International Musical of the Year competition in Denmark and was nominated for Best Musical at the Olivier Awards for its Sam Mendez production in London’s West End. Also produced off-Broadway, Guardsman was recognized by American Theatre Magazine as the Most Produced New Musical in regional theaters in the 2001/02 season. His Gunmetal Blues was produced off-Broadway and in London, in addition to over 200 productions in the United States, Canada, and Japan, and commercially recorded by the Laguna Playhouse. Other operas include The Tale of the Nutcracker, commissioned by Opera San Jose, and The Achilles Heel, which was commissioned by Houston Grand Opera for the HGO Studio and won first prize in the 1995 National Opera Association Competition. Other prizes include awards from ASCAP, Dramatist Guild, and BMI, and grants from Meet the Composer and the National Endowment for the Arts. Updated 6/20/16
Librettist: Steven Mark Kohn
Librettist Bio: Steven Mark Kohn’s creative output as a composer, arranger, and writer spans the gamut from folk song arrangements premiered at Carnegie Hall to television jingles for Fortune 500 companies and Disney Channel film scores. Kohn's love affair with American musical folklore spawned a three-volume set of American folk song arrangements, premiered at Carnegie Hall by David Daniels and Martin Katz, and recorded on Azica Records by Andrew Garland. This musical style also permeates his dramatic art song cycle, commissioned by mezzo-soprano Jennifer Larmore, based on the Civil War-era diaries of Mary Chesnut. Kohn has composed scores for several award-winning animated children’s films for PBS, ABC, and the Disney Channel, including Frog and Toad Together, Uncle Elephant, Morris Goes to School, and the Emmy-nominated Runaway Ralph, starring Fred Savage and Ray Walston. As a composer and arranger, Kohn has created music for Wheaties, Matrix, Volvo, BP, Sea World, HarperCollins, Second Story Productions, NPR, and BBC 2's documentary film Let Them Live. As a writer, he has crafted lyrics for Craig Bohmler’s The Quiltmaker’s Gift, Unstoppable Me, The Tale of the Nutcracker, and The Three Redneck Tenors. Kohn serves on the composition faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music as director of the electronic music studio. Updated 6/20/16
Other Artistic Personnel: Keitaro Harada (Conductor)
Fenlon Lamb (Stage Director)
Ed Mell (Scenic Designer)
Douglas Provost (Lighting Designer)
Kathleen Trott (Costume Designer)
Kristin Atwell (Producer)
Billie Jo & Judd Herberger (Executive Producers)
Original Cast:

Karin Wolverton / Laura Wilde (Jane Withersteen)
Morgan Smith / Joshua Jeremiah (Lassiter)
Joshua Dennis (Bern Venters)
Amanda Opuszynski (Bess)
Kristopher Irmiter (Bishop Dyer)
Keith Phares (Elder Tull)

Work Web Site: ridersopera.com
Premiere Date: February 25, 2017

Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Zane Grey, Riders of the Purple Sage will be the first world premiere produced by Arizona Opera. Follow this Wild West adventure through the sweeping vistas and massive canyons of the Southwest, brought to life by the vibrant work of world-renowned Arizona artist, Ed Mell.

Click here for more information on this North American work.
Comments: Detailed Scene Breakdown

ACT I (40 MIN)  Utah territory, circa 1870. Jane Withersteen, a devout Mormon woman, has inherited a sprawling ranch from her father. With all the wealth and power her ranch represents, Jane is under pressure from the church to marry Elder Tull and add her land, herd, and spring to the growing Mormon settlement of Short Creek. When Jane resists Tull's advances, he resorts to threatening to whip her head rider, Venters, on a trumped-up charge. Lassiter, a mysterious gunman, arrives in time to save Venters and drive off the Mormons. Lassiter has come to see the grave of Milly Erne, who was a dear friend to Jane. He asks about Milly's daughter, who was taken by the church when she was a baby. When rustlers steal one of Jane's herds, Venters rides off to confront them, knowing the feared Masked Rider is among them. He wounds the Masked Rider, and is astonished to discover a girl named Bess beneath the rider's mask.

ACT II (60 MIN) Jane speaks to her departed father, questioning the behavior of her churchmen and considering the challenges of her situation, before Lassiter arrives in time to avert a stampede bearing down on Jane's ranch. Venters and Bess hide out in Surprise Valley as Bess recuperates and the two fall in love. Venters notices a large balancing rock, which could be pushed over to bury any pursuers and seal up the canyon. Though Bess would be content to stay in Surprise Valley, Venters convinces her to come to Illinois with him. Bishop Dyer, head of the local Mormon Church, confronts Jane about her friendship with Lassiter, a Mormon-hating gunman, as well as her refusal to marry Tull. Lassiter arrives and drives off the Bishop, who damns them both. Venters arrives and tells Jane and Lassiter about Bess, Surprise Valley, and their plans to leave for Illinois. Jane and Lassiter visit the grave of Milly Erne, who is revealed to be Lassiter's sister. There, he discovers that Bishop Dyer had taken Milly from her home, and abducted her child after she left the church. Lassiter swears revenge on the Bishop.

Bishop Dyer and Elder Tull reaffirm their commitment to the growing Mormon Church, and Dyer conducts a sermon as Lassiter waits outside the church, hell-bent on revenge. Lassiter confronts and kills the Bishop, but not before discovering that Bess is Milly’s daughter. Back at Jane’s house, Lassiter confesses to the killing and surrenders his guns to Jane, prepared to give up his life as a gunman. Tull and his men prepare to attack Jane’s ranch and kill Lassiter as Bess and Venters prepare to leave Surprise Valley for Illinois. Jane and Lassiter decide to join Bess and Venters on their journey to a new life in Illinois. Jane torches her ranch as they ride out, determined that the Church will not take the house her father built with his own hands. The four meet up out on the sage, where Lassiter and his niece Bess are reunited. With Tull and his men in hot pursuit, Jane and Lassiter surrender their horses to the young lovers, so that they may escape, while Jane and Lassiter make their way to Surprise Valley. With no way out, Jane and Lassiter push the balancing rock down on Tull’s men, burying them and sealing themselves in the canyon.

1473.jpg is a photo of Riders of the Purple Sage
Length: 02:10
Total Acts: 3
Contact: Not Available
Address: For licensing and score rental or purchase, contact Aldea Publishing at publisher@ridersopera.com
Composer Web Site: http://www.craigbohmler.com/
Librettist Web Site: http://stevenmarkkohn.com/
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