John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" is almost unquestionably one of the most tragic and most tender stories ever written.
Carlisle Floyd turned the Steinbeck novel into an opera in 1970. It was an atypical opera in its experimental era, and that may be why it has had such staying power. Its score is melodic and emotional, with musical allusions to the America of the Dust Bowl era. His libretto has been praised for the way it summons the sentiment of the book and interprets its two classic characters, George Milton and Lennie Samll, Depression-era workers who fatally pursue their American Dream.
A New York Times reviewer said it was perhaps the best opera by Carlisle, who's much more widely known for "Susannah" and other works
Sarasota Opera is staging the Carlisle work for two weeks starting Saturday. It's the last opera in the company's Winter Festival.
Details: March 9-13, Sarasota Opera, 61 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota. 8 p.m. March 9, 12, 14, and 20; 1;30 p.m. March 17 and 23. Tickets: $45-$110. Information: 941-366-8450, www.sarasotaopera.org.
-- Marty Clear