Proving Up was originally commissioned by Washington National Opera at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Francesca Zambello, Artistic Director and first produced at the Kennedy Center during the 2017-2018 season. Co-commissioners: Opera Omaha, Miller Theater at Columbia University
Proving Up is an opera about the American Dream, told through the story of Nebraskan homesteaders in the 1870s. A family dreams of “proving up” and obtaining the deed to the land they’ve settled. They obsessively list the requirements of the Homestead Act: five years of harvest, a sod house dwelling, and perhaps the most elusive element — a glass window. With their eldest son incapacitated, Ma and Pa Zegner send their youngest living child Miles on a mission to share the valuable commodity with their distant neighbors who are expecting a visit from a government inspector. Miles mounts his gray mare with the window wrapped in burlap and gallops across the land. The elements, natural and otherwise, have other plans, and Miles comes face to face with a strange man who turns out to be the ghost of a neighboring farmer, driven mad by the requirements of “proving up.” The willowy figure knows all too well the cost of the American Dream, and the window soon becomes a broken mirror reflecting great tragedy.
This aria is from Part 4 of the opera, sung by Ma.