A Bozeman opera company is delivering a story to the stage by a living composer for the first time in its 42-year history. 

Intermountain Opera premieres "27," by Ricky Ian Gordon and Royce Vavrek, this week. The story is about lovers Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas and their lives in Paris in the early 1900s, beginning during World War I and ending with World War II.  Stein and Toklas had a parlor, at 27 rue de Fleurus, where they entertained guests like Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway. The opera was premiered in 2014. 

"It's just a very poignant story about life at the beginning of the 1900s in the middle of two world wars, how art and culture kept people grounded with all of the chaos going on around them and how that in itself was the inspiration of so much of the great art that came out of the era," said Intermountain Opera executive director Jackie Vick. 

One of the writers of the opera, Ricky Ian Gordon, worked with Vick and artistic director Linda Curtis on the opera's rehearsals and set design. 

"We've never had that opportunity before," said Vick. "We've never been able to say, 'We know that we're doing what the composer envisioned.'" 

The opera has a cast of only five, all out-of-state professional actors, with an orchestra composed of mostly local and in-state musicians. 

"Intermountain Opera chooses our orchestras for each specific show," said Curtis. "The music is so interesting because it's new ... it's intriguing but it's very melodic." 

The show's sets are also unique. Intermountain Opera rented three special projectors from Los Angeles that project the sets onto walls on the stage, curbing the need for an intermission for set changes. Curtis said the audience can anticipate a roller coaster of emotions, both high and low, throughout the 90-minute performance.

"They can expect entertainment, they will laugh, if they're like me they will cry," she said. "You find yourself going through a vast number of emotional levels ... and it's just beautifully portrayed in the music." 

Tickets to "27" are available on Intermountain Opera's website, intermountainopera.org, but that's not the only place showgoers can find tickets. Vick said a limited number of "RUSH" tickets, $10 each, will be available on Friday and Saturday at several locations only during specific times. 

"It's such an incredible art form that adds to the quality of life," she said about opera. "We don't want anybody to miss this show. If we've got empty seats, we want people there, and if anybody has any financial constraints we're hoping that $10 is accessible." 

"27" makes its Bozeman premiere on Friday at 7:00 p.m., and Sunday at 3:00 p.m., at the Willson Auditorium. RUSH tickets will be available on at the downtown ERA office from 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., on Friday and Saturday; at Country Bookshelf and Eckroth Music from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., on Friday; and at Country Bookshelf from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., on Sunday. 

Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at 406-582-2603. Follow her on Twitter @mel_loveridge.

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