In 2006, at the 78th Academy Awards, the film Brokeback Mountain captured three Oscars and the attention of movie fans everywhere. That two handsome stars — Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal — played the lead roles helped propel the film’s popularity.
But the tale of star-crossed sheepherders who fall in love on a rugged Wyoming mountain originated long before the film, as a tightly focused short story by Annie Proulx that was published in the New Yorker in 1997.
Now Proulx and Pulitzer-winning composer Charles Wuorinen have brought Brokeback Mountain to the operatic stage. The entire production from Madrid’s Teatro Real is being offered for free video streaming at Medici TV, beginning Friday at 2 p.m. ET. It will remain available for 90 days.
In an interview with NPR’s Morning Edition, Proulx, celebrated for her colorfully succinct style of writing, said she relished the chance to craft her first opera libretto and the opportunity to expand on her protagonists a little. Wuorinen said he saw the operatic potential in the story after seeing the film: “It’s a contemporary version of a universal human problem. Two people that are in love, who can’t make it work and it ends badly.”