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MINNEAPOLIS (April 13, 2016) – Minnesota Opera concludes its 2015-2016 season with the highly anticipated world premiere of The Shining, a new opera by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Paul Moravec and librettist Mark Campbell, premiering at the Music Theater at the Ordway in St. Paul, Minnesota on May 7, 2016.
Based on the 1977 best-selling novel, The Shining is the iconic, supernatural horror story that firmly established Stephen King as the genre’s definitive voice. The novel, like the opera, is a gripping thriller about the struggles of Jack Torrance, his wife Wendy and their son Danny, to survive the isolation of the Overlook Hotel in Colorado where Jack has been engaged as winter caretaker. The family endeavors to remain together in spite of their growing isolation from the world, the hotel’s paranormal activity and Jack’s abusive nature, alcoholism and growing madness.
“It’s tremendously exciting that Stephen King granted us permission to adapt The Shining into an opera,” said Minnesota Opera’s Artistic Director Dale Johnson. “Opera has the unique ability to amplify a story’s emotions. By putting one of the most powerfully imagined stories of our time into the hands of Paul Moravec and Mark Campbell, we’ve created an intensely thrilling horror opera. I couldn’t be more eager to share it with our audience."
Composer Paul Moravec considers The Shining a perfect fit for the operatic art form. “Opera for me is about three things: love, death and power. This story has all of those elements on steroids. For all of its sophistication, opera is simple, primordial. It speaks to us so deeply because it deals with who we are on the most fundamental level. That's certainly what Stephen King does in The Shining. His story explores timeless, universal human issues in a high-voltage way, and that’s operatic.”
Mr. Moravec, recipient of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in Music, is a prolific composer for the orchestral, chamber, choral, lyric, film and operatic genres. Moravec’s first opera, The Letter – commissioned by The Santa Fe Opera with a libretto by Terry Teachout – premiered in the 2009 season, and its score was praised in Opera News as “richly orchestrated ... it amplifies emotions, emphasizes confrontation and crisis and drives the action forward. But it also creates a dramatic world in which singing seems to be the only appropriate medium.” The Shining is Moravec’s fourth opera.
The Shining represents librettist Mark Campbell’s fourth premiere with Minnesota Opera, following the successes of Silent Night (2011), The Manchurian Candidate (2015) and Memory Boy (2016). “Minnesota Opera and the New Works Initiative feel like home to me and I am thrilled to be collaborating again with Stage Director Eric Simonson and Music Director Michael Christie,” said Campbell. “The story Stephen King has created in the novel is ideally suited for operatic treatment and Paul’s profoundly brilliant music – along with the electrifying production Minnesota Opera will deliver – is going to make for an undoubtedly exciting night of theater.”
Mark is one of the most in-demand librettists in the country, having written over 15 operas, including Silent Night (which received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music), Later the Same Evening, Volpone, Bastianello/Lucrezia and As One. In 2017, Mark will premiere four new operas: Dinner at Eight for Minnesota Opera, Some Light Emerges for Houston Grand Opera, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs for The Santa Fe Opera and Elizabeth Cree for Opera Philadelphia.
Baritone Brian Mulligan, who delivered a riveting performance in Minnesota Opera’s 2013 production of Hamlet, returns to the company to create the iconic role of Jack Torrance. He performs regularly with leading opera houses in the United States, including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago, and is known for his “burnished, pliant sound and gripping, expressive penetration” (The Chicago Tribune).
Mr. Mulligan stars opposite soprano Kelly Kaduce, a Minnesota Opera audience favorite most recently seen in the titular role of Tosca, where she “handled Puccini’s famous diva role with aplomb” creating a “vivid, charismatic” character (Star Tribune). A Minnesota native, St. Olaf graduate and winner of the 1999 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Kaduce has sung with Boston Lyric Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. She created the role of Rosasharn in the world premiere of The Grapes of Wrath for Minnesota Opera in 2007.
Bass Arthur Woodley sings the role of Dick Hallorann, the seasonal cook at the Overlook, who shares a psychic ability with Danny that he calls “the shining” and who returns to the hotel to rescue the family in the final moments of the opera. Making his Minnesota Opera debut with The Shining, Woodley has appeared with prestigious opera companies all over the U.S., including San Francisco Opera, Seattle Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.
Alejandro Vega, a fifth grader at XinXing Academy Chinese Immersion School in Hopkins, Minnesota, makes his Minnesota Opera debut in the role of Danny Torrance, a young boy with strong psychic powers. Vega made his professional debut in Theater Latté Da’s Oliver! in 2015 and just recently performed in its production of Gypsy.
Stage Director Eric Simonson, a 2006 Academy Award winner for best short-subject documentary, has directed Minnesota Opera’s Silent Night, The Dream of Valentino, Wuthering Heights and The Grapes of Wrath. His production of The Song of Jacob Zulu played on Broadway and was nominated for six Tony Awards including Best Director. Simonson holds the distinction of being one of only a handful of directors who has received Tony, Emmy and Oscar nominations. Simonson’s goal is to bring the aesthetic of the novel onto the stage: “We’re going to coordinate the media and the set, the lights, the sound and the music all at once to see if we can make people jump out of their seats.”
Music Director Michael Christie, recognized as “a top-notch conductor of new works” by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, will conduct the Minnesota Opera Orchestra.
The world premiere of The Shining kicks off the second phase of Minnesota Opera’s New Works Initiative, which includes the world premiere of Dinner at Eight by composer William Bolcom and librettist Mark Campbell, the Midwest premiere of Cold Mountain by composer Jennifer Higdon and librettist Gene Scheer and the world premiere of The Black Sox Scandal by composer Joel Puckett and librettist Eric Simonson. A pioneering movement in new opera when it was launched in 2008, Minnesota Opera’s New Works Initiative continues to invigorate the operatic art form with an infusion of contemporary works, while fulfilling the company’s commitment to artistic growth, leadership and innovation.
What: The Shining
Music by Paul Moravec
Libretto by Mark Campbell
Based on the Novel by Stephen King
Where: The Music Theater at the Ordway, 345 Washington Street, Saint Paul, MN
When: Saturday, May 7, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 12, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 14, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, May 15, 2 p.m.
Tickets: $25-$200. Call the Minnesota Opera Ticket Office at 612-333-6669, Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., or purchase online at mnopera.org.