Professor Peter Yates Presents Original Ghost Town Film Opera

Professor Peter Yates Presents Original Ghost Town Film Opera
Music Professor Peter Yates is seen here as a character in his film “The Mother Lode.”
The film uses a variety of mediums to depict characters.
The film will be shown May 9 at the Music Recital Hall.

The Music Department is proud to host Peter Yates's “The Mother Lode,” on May 9, at 8 p.m. in the Music Recital Hall. Yates has spent roughly 2,500 hours creating this unusual film opera about Bodie, Calif., a dusty old ghost town with a gruesome past.

The film takes viewers from high-Sierra graves where grand figures awaken to sing of their deeds, heroic and absurd, before returning, seventy-five mad minutes later, to snow-blanketed, silent sleep.

“It's designed to be unusual, so it's unusual,” the music professor says. “There is a narrative and a story so the film is not abstract. However the manner of presentation is not typical.”

Yates weaves together historical events using a variety of ways to convey characters like puppets, paper cutouts and himself wearing masks. The film features Bluegrass music, singing, and percussion.

“It has all the elements of an opera without the fat lady singing,” Yates says. “I wanted to use today's desktop technology to allow one person to do every aspect of the production. Also, the art of movie sound effects, or 'Foley,' is used, so that for example, the player hits rocks, bits of metal, gravel, and other unusual objects, all in time with the score.”

Tickets may be purchased at the Music Publicity Office, Building 24, room 142 or online at

To purchase a DVD, contact Peter Yates,