Peabody Opera Outreach presents
An original opera based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest
music by Douglas Allan Buchanan
additional text by Roger Brunyate
Available for booking November 2011 through May 2012
Joann Moorer, or call 410–234–4575
In conjunction with the Annapolis Opera Company, Peabody Opera Outreach has commissioned an operatic version of Shakespeare’s Tempest from composer Douglas Allan Buchanan. Designed for grade-school audiences, the production has been devised by Roger Brunyate, Chair of the Peabody Opera Department, who will also direct the show. The touring production will be available beginning in November, 2011.
Ariel’s Tempest condenses the story of the Shakespeare play into a 50-minute span. Seven singing actors are involved. Five of these are characters in the play: Prospero, the wronged magician; Ariel and Caliban, creatures of air and earth respectively; and Ferdinand and Miranda, the very young lovers. However, the production is narrated by a modern character: the Stage Manager. She introduces Shakespeare at work on his play, asks him questions between scenes, and joins with him in taking any other bit parts that are going. The linking text is all new, the comic scenes are adapted from Shakespeare, and the sung portions use Shakespeare’s original words.
The emphasis of the production is on the wonder and magic of this most magical of Shakespeare's plays. We have downplayed the political aspects of the original but emphasized the themes of tolerance, love, and family. The opera will be presented fully costumed, and with simple adaptable sets that can be turned into just about anything in a spirit of make-believe. The accompaniment is for piano and synthesizer, allowing the composer to create sounds that evoke the magic of Shakespeare's play which, being rooted in the masque tradition, itself grows out of music and dance.
Hearing the entrancing voice of Ariel in his mind, Shakespeare sits down and starts to write The Tempest. The Stage Manager explains the setting—a deserted island—and introduces the principal characters: Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan, who has turned himself into a magician; Miranda, his teenage daughter; the spirit Ariel and the monster Caliban, creatures of the air and earth whom Prospero rescued from bondage and who now serve him. We see the dreadful tempest that Ariel creates on Prospero’s command to wreck the ship containing his enemy, King Alonso, and his young son Ferdinand, each of whom now believes that the other is dead. Miranda and Ferdinand fall in love at first sight, but Prospero, wishing to test the young man’s determination, accuses him of being a spy and puts him to hard labor.
Meanwhile, two other survivors from the wreck are lost on the island: Stephano, Alonso’s swaggering butler, and Trinculo, his jester. Coming upon the terrified Caliban in a storm, Stephano gives Caliban wine to drink, which so delights the monster that he worships him like a god. This makes Trinculo jealous, and when the invisible Ariel joins in the quarrel by imitating the jester's voice, a violent fight ensues. But the three make up, and start singing a round to cheer themselves up, and Ariel, still invisible, joins in with their tune. This terrifies the men, but Caliban calms them: “Be not afeared, the isle is full of noises; sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.”
Prospero’s plans draw to an end. Ariel confronts the heartbroken King Alonso (played by Shakespeare again) with his crimes. Miranda tries to help Ferdinand with his chores, and they declare their love for one another. The three low-life characters try to rob Prospero’s cell, but are driven off by phantom dogs. Prospero brings Alonso and Ferdinand back together. Amazed to see his son still alive, the father repents of his crimes and blesses Ferdinand’s marriage to Miranda. Prospero frees Ariel and gives up his magic arts. Finally, the Stage Manager appears as the goddess Juno, to consecrate the happy outcome.
Cast and Performers
|William Shakespeare||Nicholas Dogas|
|Stage Manager||Danielle Buonaiuto|
|Music Directors||Nadezda Mijatovic-Sekicki|
Award-winning composer Douglas Allan Buchanan was raised in Dallas, Texas where he studied piano, violin, bagpipes, and percussion. He began formal composition study at the College of Wooster, where he also trained as an organist. He currently studies with renowned composer Michael Hersch in the DMA program at the Peabody Institute. He has been commissioned by institutions including the Johns Hopkins University, the University of Baltimore, as well as world-renowned poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. He serves as adjunct Music Theory Faculty at the Peabody Conservatory and Towson University, and was recently appointed as the Director of Music Ministries at historic Old St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Baltimore. In 2009, Douglas was the recipient of the prestigious Presser Award, enabling him to present his virtuosic piano cycle Colonnades on a national tour including the East Coast, Midwest and Southwest. In 2011 his opera Lux et Tenebrae was premiered by the Figaro Project, receiving praise for being “wonder-filled, expressive, beautiful, and luminous,” and “capable of at once uniting spectacle and depth.” Most recently, his orchestral work Malleus was read by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and was also chosen as the winning work in the Macht Orchestral Composition Competition, to be premiered in the 2011–2012 season by the Peabody Symphony Orchestra.
Roger Brunyate has been Artistic Director of the Peabody Opera Theatre since 1980. Born in Britain, he has worked at the Glyndebourne Festival, the Edinburgh Festival, the English Opera Group, La Scala Milan, and for opera companies across the United States. Although he is the author of over 20 opera libretti, he has also written for children. For over a decade, Peabody Opera Outreach has been offering Papageno!, his adaptation of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, in which the entire story is told by its leading comic character (leaving out all the boring bits); Ariel’s Tempest is conceived in much the same spirit. His musical play for children, Puss in Boots, recently played for two holiday seasons at Baltimore’s Theatre Project.