Music: S/iy Venture

Secure in his top rank among contemporary U.S. composers of symphonic music, Aaron Copland last week took the plunge into opera. Shy about his venture, Veteran (53) Composer Copland first thought of launching The Tender Land (a story of the rural Midwest) far from the calloused ears of Manhattan critics ("I thought maybe Canada"). Then came an irresistible offer to open it at the New York City Opera, and Copland gave in.

Clean-Scrubbed Kansas. His opening curtain rose on a prairie-farmyard scene. His characters were plain, salt-of-the-earth folk: a grandfather (Basso Normaiv Treigle),...

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