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Published September 21, 2018
“Locust: The Opera,” a one-hour chamber opera written by two University of Wyoming professors, will premiere in Jackson Sept. 28-29. And to celebrate the performance, a special session of Saturday University -- the half day of college lectures and discussion offered by UW -- is scheduled Saturday, Sept. 29, in Teton County Library’s Ordway Auditorium.
The original opera production will be performed Friday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 29, at 1 p.m. at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. A reception follows the evening performance. People are encouraged to sign up for free tickets at www.bit.ly/LocustsOpera. A $20 free-will donation is suggested.
The chamber opera is based on UW Professor Jeff Lockwood’s acclaimed book “Locust: The Devastating Rise and Mysterious Disappearance of the Insect that Shaped the American Frontier.” Anne Guzzo, a UW associate professor of music, composed “Locust’s” score, while Lockwood, a professor of natural sciences and humanities, wrote the lyrics. The art director is Ashley Hope Carlisle, a UW art associate professor of sculpture.
The three UW professors will be the guest lecturers for the Saturday University program that begins with coffee and doughnuts at 8:30 a.m., followed by the program 30 minutes later.
Participants may attend one, two or all three lectures.
“During the fall and spring terms, Saturday University visits locations throughout Wyoming discussing today’s most captivating topics,” says Saturday University Coordinator Paul Flesher, a UW religious studies professor.
In its 11th year, Saturday University is a collaborative program that connects popular UW and Wyoming community college professors with lifelong learners. Offered nine times a year -- twice each in Jackson, Gillette and Sheridan, and once in Rock Springs, Pinedale and Cody -- Saturday U is sponsored by the university, Wyoming Humanities, Wyoming community colleges and local communities. The program is presented locally by UW, the Wyoming Humanities Council, Central Wyoming College and Teton County Library.
Listed below are program topic descriptions and professors lecturing:
-- 9 a.m.: “How to Swoon for a Swarm: Creating Characters and Narratives for the chamber opera ‘Locust,’” Anne Guzzo, UW Department of Music associate professor.
Guzzo says, in a song, music distills, crystallizes and intensifies the lyrics. In an opera, the lyricist tells the story while the composer dramatizes it. The music animates the characters, identifying them and evoking their personal qualities -- warmth, depression, energy, humor, steadfastness, etc.
“While the music carries the central narrative forward, it also can tell an additional story -- one that may align itself with the main tale or perhaps contradict its words or maybe even tell its own story,” Guzzo says.
She will discuss the inner musical workings of the environmental murder mystery opera “Locust,” written with Lockwood, the production’s lyricist.
-- 10 a.m.: “The Locust Opera: Set Design as Art Installation,” Ashley Hope Carlisle, UW Department of Art and Art History associate professor.
“We often think of art as static, standing in a traditional gallery space or hanging on a wall in a home,” Carlisle says. “But what about art which is used, which people interact with?”
Carlisle will discusses the conceptualization, visualization and creation of the costumes and set for the interdisciplinary opera “Locust.”
-- 11 a.m.: “The Rocky Mountain Locust: From Magnificent Profusion to Mysterious Extinction,” Jeff Lockwood, UW professor of natural sciences and humanities.
In 1875, approximately 3 trillion Rocky Mountain locusts formed a swarm stretching 1,800 miles. Yet, less than 30 years after causing such widespread devastation, the locust had disappeared. How did this locust fall from ecological triumph to extinction so rapidly?
“The scientific sleuthing that answered the question began with local historical accounts and obscure maps and extended to ice core analysis from Wyoming’s remote glaciers,” Lockwood says. “The killer lacked a motive and used the simplest of means; the extinction was an incredible accident. This fortuitous collision of humans and nature provides powerful lessons for the modern world.”
For more information about Jackson’s Saturday University program, call Flesher at (307) 766-2616 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Saturday University, visit the website at www.uwyo.edu/saturdayu/index.html.