The story centers on ranch hand Ennis del Mar and rodeo cowboy Jack Twist, who meet and fall in love in the mountains of Wyoming in 1963.
According to Teatro Real, "In a decidely different approach than the film adaptation, Wuorinen creates a grittier atmosphere. The story and characters have been tightly condensed by Proulx, a ghost and a chorus have been added, and nature itself introduced as the underlying element of the narrative. Wuorinen's score evokes the mountains with its swells and strains, bringing to life the harshly imposing Wyoming landscape from which the story was born."
The cast features Daniel Okulitch as Ennis, Tom Randle as Jack Twist, Heather Buck as Alma and Hanna Esther Minutillo as Lureen. Also featured are Ethan Herschenfeld, Hilary Summers, Ryan MacPherson, Jane Henschel and Letitia Singleton.
The 2005 film co-starred Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger. The motion picture won three Academy Awards, including Best Achievement in Directing (Ang Lee), Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score (Gustavo Santaolalla) and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay (Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana).
Titus Engel conducts. The opera has sets and lighting by Jan Versweyveld, video projections by designer Tal Yarden and costumes by Wojciech Dziedzic.
The opera had at one time been announced to premiere at New York City Opera in 2013; however, the plan to stage the work was scuttled when appointed general manager and artistic director Gerard Mortier, who commissioned the piece, departed NYCO in 2008.