Wine Country

Opera in Development

composer Theo Popov

librettist E. M. Lewis






Introduction to the Opera  



WINE COUNTRY is a cross-cultural romantic comedy set in a vineyard and winery in the Willamette Valley in the mid-1960’s, inspired by real events from the birth of the Oregon wine industry. It is envisioned as an experience for all senses to be presented to its audience with a flight of wines specifically curated by the sommelier composer.

When K.T.— a widowed wine-maker from an upstart Oregon winery — wins an international wine competition with her Pinot Noir, Jean Martin — the eternally single heir to a generations-long French wine-making tradition — flies over to meet this American who has had the audacity to beat him.

Jean arrives at the vineyard, demanding to see the winemaker and wanting to give “him” a piece of his mind. He doesn’t believe that an American wine could possibly beat a French wine, and accuses K.T. of cheating. When K.T. comes in from the vineyard, Jean Martin is shocked to find out that the winemaker he’s been vilifying is a beautiful and fascinating woman...

Over the course of the evening, the sun goes down and the stars come out. Wine is poured and drunk, wine-making values are thoroughly argued, and French and American philosophies are explored. As K.T. and Jean banter and battle over who gets to call their country “wine country,” they find that they have more in common than the have that separates them… and that love might not be impossible to find after all.



The composer of this project is also a certified sommelier, and the librettist lives on her family’s vineyard and winery in Oregon. We will be bringing our personal knowledge of the wine world to this project.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of the music will be its compositional design to enhance the perception of the wines it is paired with – and vice versa! A melismatic barcarolle sung by a coloratura soprano will emphasize the floral aromatics of a riesling, while a somber baritone melody boosts the earthiness and tannin structure of a pinot noir. Much academic research has been done into these interactions though no concert or theater music to date has been composed specifically with these cross-modal interactions in mind. After months of research and test trials, we are excited to pioneer music-and-opera pairings with WINE COUNTRY. We aim to demonstrate how a perfect pairing can enhance the mutual enjoyment of theater, music and wine.


About the Creators

The two of us met in the Composer Librettist Development Program at American Lyric Theater in New York City. Our training – with some of the most accomplished composers, librettists, and dramaturgs in the world – gave us a common language to speak about the craft of opera-making, and a comprehensive process to use to work together to tell a story.

When commissioned by the University of Maryland's Maryland Opera Studio to write an opera for their first year masters class to perform, we wrote TOWN HALL – about a community that is challenged to decide what it thinks about the Affordable Care Act when one of their neighbors, who is terribly ill, challenges their conservative senator at a town meeting. We had a wonderful experience working together on that project, which has subsequently been fully orchestrated and produced at Willamette University. We love working together, and continue to look for opportunities to do so!


Preliminary Character List

K. T. Sullivan (F/38) - An American winemaker. Tough and smart and capable. She began a Pinot Noir vineyard in the Willamette Valley in Oregon with her husband, who died two years ago. They were some of the first “pioneers” to try growing French grapes in Oregon. Mezzo-soprano.

Jean Martin (M/44) - A French winemaker. Charming and smart and capable. He is part of a prestigious wine-making family that goes back eight generations on the same land. He’s inherited his father’s love for the land and work, but has a restless spirit that has made him an eternal bachelor. Baritone.

Loren Foster (F/29) - K.T.’s assistant at the winery. Fun and fluttery, she has a great time working in the tasting room. She’s protective of K. T. – but she also would very much like to help her find a new love. Soprano.


Proposed Instrumentation

• 1 piano, 1 cello, 1 harp.

Full Production Length

• 60-90 minutes


Perusal Materials

PDF one-sheet