Moores Opera Center Premieres 'Grapes of Wrath'

The tragic, yet optimistic tale, of the Joad family in John Steinbeck's 1939 novel "The Grapes of Wrath" has long captivated audiences. In both the book and 1940 movie version starring Henry Fonda, the Joads personified the perseverance of the American spirit.

More recently, the Joads' story began reaching opera-goers through a production of "The Grapes of Wrath." With music by Ricky Ian Gordon, the production has been heralded by critics as a modern-day masterpiece.

Houstonians will have the opportunity to see and hear what critics have been clamoring about when the University of Houston Moores Opera Center presents the Texas premiere "The Grapes of Wrath" April 3 – 6.

"This isn't just the Lone Star debut of 'The Grapes of Wrath,'" said Buck Ross, director of the Moores Opera Center. "UH is the first university to host this marvelous opera, and we plan to deliver a performance that will amaze Houstonians."

The opera closely follows Steinbeck's story of the Joads and their journey from the Dust Bowl to farms and labor camps on the west coast. Along the way, they face a host of obstacles: poverty, social prejudice, unemployment, adverse weather and death. Through all of their hardships, the Joads remain united in their quest for the American dream.

Driving this epic story is Gordon’s music and a libretto by Michael Korie (who wrote lyrics for hit musical "Grey Gardens"), which offers audiences a unique musical experience that is part opera, part Broadway musical.

"This is an ambitious and entertaining production," Ross said. "It definitely has crossover appeal and will impress longtime opera enthusiasts, as well as aficionados of musical theater."

"The Grapes of Wrath" premiered in 2007 in St. Paul, Minn., and has been performed in Salt Lake City and Pittsburgh.

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WHAT: "The Grapes of Wrath"
WHEN: 7:30 p.m., April 3, 4, 6; 2 p.m., April 5
WHERE: Moores Opera House
University of Houston – Entrance 16
Houston, TX 77204
WHO: University of Houston/Moores School of Music