The Pulitzer Prize-winning play tells the story of a charismatic drifter who arrives in a sleepy Kansas town and has a dramatic effect on several of its residents. It premiered on Broadway in 1953 and was made into a film in 1955.
According to the News & Record, Larsen, the composer of Frankenstein, The Modern Prometheus and Barnum's Bird, among many other works, has long wanted to base an opera on the play. When the university agreed to commission the work, UNCG Opera Theatre director David Holley said, "she almost started crying."
The Opera Theatre will premiere the new opera in the spring of 2008 at the newly renovated Aycock Auditorium.