Rorem, best known for his songs, is also the composer of three symphonies, four piano concertos, and nine operas, including the 1965 Miss Julie. He is also the author of many books, including the famed New York Diary and Paris Diary.
The libretto is by poet J. D. McClatchy, the author of librettos for William Schuman's A Question of Taste, Lorin Maazel's 1984, Eliot Goldenthal's forthcoming Grandel, and other operas.
Our Town was commissioned by IU with Lake George Opera, which will present its professional premiere in July, and Opera Boston, Aspen Music Festival and School, North Carolina School of the Arts, and Festival Opera of Walnut Creek, California.
According to IU, many composers, including Aaron Copland, have sought to set Wilder's play to music in the past, but Wilder opposed the idea. Recently, however, Tappan Wilder, the playwright's nephew and the executor of his estate, decided with McClatchy, a Wilder expert, to offer the opportunity to Rorem.
Our Town, Rorem said in an article on the IU web site, "is the ultimate American play.... It is also singable, unlike some literature. The danger, of course, is that it's terribly famous."
David Effron will conduct the world-premiere performances, which continue on March 3 and 4; Vincent J. Liotta is the director. Sets are by C. David Higgins.
The cast of student singers, many with professional experience, is headed by tenor Eric McCluskey as the Stage Manager.