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Jennifer Higdon's Opera, 'Cold Mountain,' and Its East Coast Premiere

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Ken Howard for Santa Fe Opera
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Soprano Isabel Leonard sings Ada in Jennifer Higdon's COLD MOUNTAIN, opening at Philadelphia's Academy of Music on February 5, 2016.

Opera Philadelphia is presenting the East Coast premiere of Jennifer Hidgon's first opera, Cold Mountain. As WRTI's Susan Lewis reports, the opera adds another dimension to the Civil War story from the critically acclaimed novel by Charles Frazier.

Cold Mountain opens Friday, February 5th and runs through Sunday, February 14th at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia.

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Listen to more of Susan's interview with composer Jennifer Higdon, who talks about the creation of the opera, 'Cold Mountain.'

Details here.

Radio script:

MUSIC: Orion's Duet with Ada and Inman

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Pulitzer-winning composer, Jennifer Higdon

Susan Lewis: A Civil War story about a confederate soldier Inman, who leaves his unit to walk home to Ada, the woman he loves.  Cold Mountain is set in Appalachia, near where composer Jennifer Higdongrew up.

Jennifer Higdon:  Smokey Mountains on one side – Cold mountain was on the other. I felt like when I read the book I knew all these people, even though it was 150 years later.

SL: Honoring the characters, the story and the emotions, Higdon created a musical identity for each main character. For Ada, who is learning to survive with the help of the resourceful Ruby. For the villainous Teague, who hunts down deserters without mercy. And for the soldier Inman, who is determined to make the dangerous journey home.

Music: Inman sings "The Metal Age"

JH: I thought a lot about Inman – who is a solider who has been hollowed out – so I gave him a lot of brass orchestrations, trombones, horns. When I was creating the harmony, I actually took out the middle of the chord – the very part that tells you if it's major or minor – because he feels hollowed out, I wanted the music hollowed out.

SL: The war is the constant backdrop – as are the fallen soldiers.

MUSIC: "Our Beautiful Country"

SL: Theirs is a hymn-like chorus about what they call their beautiful country.

As senior producer of arts and culture, Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and producer of The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series, to which she also contributes weekly intermission interviews. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.