What is at the Center of Your Soul?
Deserting the Confederate army and fleeing the hospital to reunite with the love of his life, wounded Civil War soldier W. P. Inman endures an American odyssey that has gripped millions of readers — and now takes the opera stage. In this highly anticipated world premiere, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon captures the fervor of Charles Frazier’s thrilling novel Cold Mountain with her distinctive technical brilliance and audience appeal. Nathan Gunn, the go-to lyric baritone for heroic roles, is ideally cast as Inman, returning to Santa Fe after more than 15 years. His beloved Ada Monroe is created by the Grammy Award-winning Isabel Leonard, most recently heard here in Vivaldi’s Griselda in 2011. Rounding out the principal cast is tenor Jay Hunter Morris, a former Santa Fe Opera apprentice whose recent Siegfried took the Metropolitan Opera by storm, and Emily Fons, who beguiled as Cherubino in 2013’s The Marriage of Figaro. Miguel Harth-Bedoya, remembered for Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar in 2005, conducts.
For more on this exciting world premiere, be sure to watch these interviews with Cold Mountain's cast and creative team.
Composer Jennifer Higdon
Librettist Gene Scheer
Sung in English
Teague, the leader of the local Home Guard, is hunting down Civil War deserters.
W.P. Inman, a Confederate soldier, decides to desert and return home to his beloved Ada. On his journey, Inman meets Solomon Veasey, whom he stops from committing murder. Meanwhile, the once-privileged Ada lives a life of deprivation at Black Cove Farm until she meets Ruby, a mountain woman who teaches Ada about farming and surviving.
Inman reencounters Veasey near a river while fleeing the Home Guard, and bargains with him for passage across the water. Fate and weather conspire against the pair, who capsize and drift downriver. The next morning, Lila and her three sisters stumble upon the two men. Lila’s husband drugs Inman and Veasey before giving them up to the Home Guard. The men are put on a chain gang of deserters.
Back at the farm, Ruby finds her estranged father Stobrod trying to steal food. She wants nothing to do with him, despite his assertions that he has changed. When Teague approaches, Ruby hides her father, but later orders him to stay away.
Meanwhile, Inman starts an insurrection, but the guards shoot the entire chain gang and leave. A wounded Inman is the lone survivor. He relives the day he bid Ada farewell, but the memory dissolves to the gruesome reality of the war: Inman, chained to six dead men, loses consciousness.
Lucinda, a runaway slave, is rifling through the pockets of the dead prisoners when Inman stirs and startles her. She frees him, and Inman continues his journey.
Back at Black Cove Farm, Stobrod and his travelling companion Pangle are still relying upon Ruby and Ada for sustenance. Stobrod tries to convince Ruby that he is a new man, but she remains skeptical.
Inman now happens upon Sara, a war widow, who is trying desperately to comfort her baby. Inman helps her, gains her trust, and is invited to spend the night.
At Black Cove Farm, Teague appears. He has brought a copy of the newspaper that lists the names of deserters. Ruby sees her father’s name, as Teague intended.
The next morning, Inman and Sara must react quickly when Union soldiers appear.
At a campfire in the woods, Teague and his men confront Stobrod and Pangle. Both men are shot and left for dead. Ada goes hunting deep in the woods, where she and Inman finally reunite. Although both are deeply altered by the war, they manage to promise themselves to each other — but Teague is not done pursuing deserters. And the next morning when they wake, they are unaware that it will be the last morning they spend together …
- Ada - Isabel Leonard
- Ruby - Emily Fons
- Teague - Jay Hunter Morris
- Veasey - Roger Honeywell
- Inman - Nathan Gunn
- Monroe/Pangle - Anthony Michaels-Moore
- Stobrod/Blind Man - Kevin Burdette
- Owens/Ethan - Robert Pomakov
- Conductor - Miguel Harth-Bedoya
- Director - Leonard Foglia
- Scenic Designer - Robert Brill
- Costume Designer - David C. Woolard
- Lighting Designer - Brian Nason
- Projection Designer - Elaine McCarthy
- Chorus Master - Susanne Sheston