Cold Mountain

It's a novel, a film, an opera, and now it's the recently announced One Book, One Philadelphia selection for 2016.

The Free Library and the City of Philadelphia officially kicked off the yearly collective read, which will be the National Book Award fiction winner, Cold Mountain.

Ken Howard for Santa Fe Opera

Jennfier Higdon's opera Cold Mountain premiered on August 1st at the Santa Fe Opera to a world that was obviously ready for a masterwork. It was sold out before opening, an extra performance was added, and a major recording company committed to releasing it commercially. The masterwork didn't quite emerge, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns. But many good things did. 

It's a story that could have been taken from a breaking news report: A soldier, gravely wounded in a brutal battle, flees the fighting to try and make his way home. Only this story is set during the Civil War.

Operagoers have a number of months to wait for the Jennifer Higdon/Gene Scheer opera, Cold Mountain, which premieres in Santa Fe in August, and then in February 2016 at Philadelphia's Academy of Music. The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns caught a sneak preview at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, where singers and authors were interviewed and excerpts were performed.

"A fence is a very good thing."

Candace diCarlo

The door closed behind Jennifer Higdon. She was in the office of her college conducting professor, Robert Spano, seeking advice about what to do. She had just heard back from the Curtis Institute of Music - they had accepted her application for graduate studies, but so had other music schools. She needed guidance.  "I'm not letting you out of here," Spano said, until she agreed to accept the spot from Curtis.

What's the news about Opera Philadelphia’s just-announced 2015-2016 season? As the Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns reports, the season is the company’s most far-reaching yet.

Radio script:

Philadelphia-based composer Jennifer Higdon has begun writing her first opera. Based on the novel Cold Mountain, it will be her sole creative pursuit for the next three years. WRTI's Jim Cotter speaks with the world-renowned composer.