MADRID (AP) -- It was a short story, then a Hollywood movie. Now the tragic tale of two cowboys in love is being reinvented again as "Brokeback Mountain" — the opera.
Ahead of its world premiere Tuesday in Madrid, author Annie Proulx told The Associated Press that opera presented an chance to explore the complexities of the tale in a way that neither her own story nor the movie by director Ang Lee were able to do.
Proulx said she "rejoiced" when composer Charles Wuorinen approached her to write the libretto, because she understood that an opera "would give room, which the short story did not, and which the film was not particularly interested in doing," to open up the characters involved in the doomed love affair.
Wuorinen said he tried to give the menacing nature of the rugged Wyoming landscape a greater presence in the opera than in the previous versions.
"It is very beautiful, as the film shows," Wuorinen told the AP, "but it is definitely not sentimental. It is not a romantic landscape. It's a deadly one — it's dangerous."
This forbidding natural backdrop is represented by Wuorinen's sometimes atonal style — one that presented the singers with a steep learning curve.
"The music is very challenging, there's no question about that," said Canadian bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch, who appears as one of the cowboys, Ennis Del Mar.
Love scenes between Del Mar and fellow cowboy Jack Twist, performed by American tenor Tom Randle — which caused a stir when the movie was first aired — are depicted discreetly on the opera's minimalist stage.
Wuorinen's score makes use of a wide range of percussion instruments that convey sounds like the wind and rain on Brokeback Mountain. The work is in English and runs until Feb 11.
Proulx told reporters Monday there are no plans to make an opera from her 1993 novel "The Shipping News," which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the National Book Award. It focuses on an American man who rebuilds his life in Newfoundland.
"(It) doesn't have the same kind of weight or social trajectory that "Brokeback" has," Proulx said. "For our time, "Brokeback" is more important."
Associated Press writer Alan Clendenning in Madrid contributed to this report.