In 'Our Basic Nature,' a radio story fit for an opera

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Opera makers
The creators of "Our Basic Nature." From left: Kelley Rourke (librettist), Andrew Wilkowske (singer) Jocelyn Dueck (music director, pianist) John Glover (composer). (MPR Photo/Chris Roberts)
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Our Basic Nature
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| 06:21

One of the more moving, memorable installments of the award winning public radio show "Radiolab," involves a psycho therapist and a chimpanzee. The episode, entitled "Lucy," delves into how the therapist tried to raise the chimp as his own daughter.

Pitting the forces of nature against man's need to tame it, it's a story that has the makings of an opera.

And that is what it has become.

Monday and Tuesday night, audiences will get a glimpse of the unfinished opera "Our Basic Nature," at Nautilus Music Theater in St. Paul as part of its "Rough Cuts" series.

MPR arts reporter Chris Roberts produced an audio assemblage about the production.

3 Photos

  • Sound check
    Andrew Wilkowske runs through a passage of "Our Basic Nature," an opera inspired by a "Radiolab" installment. Jocelyn Dueck accompanies on piano, while librettist Kelley Rourke listens. (MPR Photo/Chris Roberts)
  • From the top
    Andrew Wilkowske and Jocelyn Dueck run through a section of their opera "Our Basic Nature." It's based on a popular installment of the public radio show "Radiolab," about a chimp that's raised as human. (MPR Photo/Chris Roberts)
  • Toy piano
    Composer John Glover plays a toy piano in the opera "Our Basic Nature." The opera was inspired by a Radiolab installment about a chimp who was raised as human then put out into the wild. (MPR Photo/Chris Roberts)