Cold Sassy Tree

Love Simpson, the woman at the center of the Carlisle Floyd opera Cold Sassy Tree, is a woman with a plan. It’s not a great plan, but given that it’s the year 1900 and Simpson is an old maid living in a gossipy small town, it’s a pretty good one. Simpson (a role shared by Cynthia Clayton and Emily Robinson) marries Rucker Lattimore, an older, gruff man whose wife recently died. When we say recently, we mean just a few days before Simpson and Lattimore’s wedding. That throws the whole town in an uproar, including his outraged adult daughters.

“Love [Simpson] is a woman who has very few options,” Clayton tells us. “She’s a woman for whom marriage didn’t happen when it was supposed to so she has to make some hard choices. When Rucker proposes, it’s a business deal.” (He needs someone to take care of him, and in return she’ll inherit all his property when he dies.) “It’s about self-preservation for her. She thinks, ‘If I don’t do this I may end up with nothing.’ So she marries him.”

But wait, this is an opera so, of course, the story doesn’t stop there. “She sees him as an old man,” Clayton says. “He’s hiding under a big Duck Dynasty beard, and yes, he’s nice to her — he wants her to be happy, he fixes up the house for her — but she isn’t thinking about love. Then he shaves off his beard and she says, ‘Oh my god, I’m married to someone -attractive.’ Things start to change for her.”

7:30 p.m. April 4, 5 and 7, 2 p.m. April 6. University of Houston, 3800 Calhoun. For information, call 713-743-3313 or visit uh.edu. $20.

See our interview with composer Carlisle Floyd.
Fri., April 4, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., April 5, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., April 6, 2 p.m.; Mon., April 7, 7:30 p.m., 2014

 
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