The Sights and Sounds of Brokeback Mountain

While studying Charles Wuorinen and Annie Proulx’s opera Brokeback Mountain, youth participants in Opera OUT Loud shared their reactions to the work. The following responses were gathered while watching Act I of Brokeback Mountain.

Click HERE to learn more about the orchestral score and hear moments of the music.


What are your reactions to the scenery concept and design?

“I thought the stage looked beautiful the entire opera. It looked menacing when bad things were happening or when it was night time. The background was intense, showing shots of the mountain. The lighting from inside the tent was beautiful; the shadows of everything looked just the way it should. The way they transferred from scene to scene was great.” – Anonymous

“I liked the sheep and the makeshift fire. [They] helped remind me of where the scenes take place.” – Allie

“I liked the treatment of the two houses. They were set up in a way that made it easy to see parallels and differences.” – Shannon

“The projection of the landscape on the screen may be a nod to the film. The bar and neon light adds a simple dynamic change – but the mountains, cold emptiness. It’s a very interesting change with the sheep descending; the animals add life (as does the fire). The growing mountain is dramatic and menacing. The stark white light in the tent is like an interrogator’s light.” – Katherine


In your own words, describe the sounds of the overture. What feeling does the overture elicit when you hear the music?

“Dark, almost otherworldly. [It] has the sound of an oncoming storm, a choppy sound, almost unsmooth on purpose.” – Anonymous

“Creepy and made me scared a bit.” – Brett

“Deep, dark, foreboding, chaotic, and discordant.” – Katherine

“[The overture] starts the opera off on a dark and intimidating tone as if something terrible were about to happen on this mountain. It almost sounds like thunder.” – Anonymous

“The overture has an ominous sound.” – Shannon

“The sounds are creepy, like a horror movie.” – Allie


How would you describe the music of the opera?

“While the [melody] didn’t strike me as super memorable (but still very good), the score has a dark, mysterious feel that was memorable to me.” – Anonymous

“When [Jack and Ennis] did their duet it kind of sounded like they were singing two different songs at the same time. In general, it sounded like they were talking.” – Allie

“The chords were always perfect. There were some parts where the singing was amazing and got the emotional point across.” – Anonymous