On July 28, 1965, Aaron Copland conducted a rare Concert Version of his 1954 opera, "The Tender Land," at the new Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, at Philharmonic Hall, with the New York Philharmonic, as part of the French-American Festival.
The only member of the original cast was the great Norman Treigle, and joining him now were Joy Clements, Claramae Turner, Richard Cassilly, and Richard Fredricks.
Happily, Columbia recorded this abridged version on July 31st, at the Manhattan Center. Would they had decided to record it complete! Nevertheless, Copland the conductor disobeys Copland the composer's metronome markings, and a lugubrious approach to the thin "folk" score is the last thing this opera needs. The cast, however, is entirely remarkable, all of whom were under-recorded Americans, yet who were among the finest of their generation.
Clements (who often appeared at both the City Opera and the Metropolitan Opera) is very touching as young Laurie, with just a touch of tang in her tone so as to make hers an interesting voice. Turner (Ulrica in the legendary Nelli/Toscanini "Un ballo in maschera") is terrific as her mother, and Cassilly (later to become one of the great Heldentenors) is a luxury as Martin.
Treigle, as the grandfather, reduces the natural vibrancy of his huge voice to suit the character of the patriarch, to great effect. The bass-baritone's exceptional rhythmic sense makes itself felt, as well. Fredricks, as Top, displays his marvelous voice and intensity.
It was in the year 2000 that Sony released this historic recording on Compact Discs, commemorating the centenary of Copland's death.