My husband went to college with Frank Popper, who went on to become a professor at Rutgers and Princeton. Along with his wife Deborah, also a professor, Popper has written extensively about the loss of population in the industrial Midwest and the idea of returning former urban areas to a “Buffalo Commons.”
That once seemed far out, but today he is popular with leaders of shrinking cities like Detroit that are open to any idea that might make cities livable again, including turning abandoned neighborhoods into parkland.
This week he sent a surprising e-mail. His research is in an opera being performed by a Milwaukee new-music ensemble called Present Music.
“The libretto.” writes Popper, “has big quotes from a 1999 academic-journal article Deborah and I wrote about the Buffalo Commons, and two of the actors play us. Composer Kitzke, librettist Masterson, baritone Ollmann and the other performers are all excellent.”
From Present Music’s website: “Buffalo Nation (Bison bison), by Jerome Kitzke and Kathleen Masterson, [was] commissioned by the Map Fund, a program of Creative Capital supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation; Forest County Potawatomi Foundation, Suzanne and Richard Pieper Family Foundation and by other individual donors. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.”
Jerome Kitzke and Kathleen Masterson