An Opera by Adam Klein. (c)1991 Adam Klein.
Based on THE SILMARILLION by J.R.R. Tolkien (C) 1977 George Allen & Unwin (Publishers) Ltd. Used by permission.
(Note: click on the link above to hear the opera scene by scene.)
Ten years before The Lord Of The Rings made it to the Silver Screen, I finished composing the music to one of the chapters in THE SILMARILLION, "Of Beren and Lúthien". I did it for myself, not for profit. I got permission to use the words, but not to mount a production, but I didn't care. I figured that was S.E.P. (somebody else's problem). I think it's good music but the composer is the one person not qualified to judge her/his own work. Others have told me it's great: whatever.
For the story, I urge you to buy the book, before someone makes a movie out of it. That way you'll have your own pictures in your head and not some producer's idea. For the record, I think movies made from great books rob one's imagination of the opportunity to create one's own pictures, and I think that's very sad. In my opinion the new movie series is surprisingly well done, but like the cartoon version made in the late "1970s" they've gotten Legolas all wrong. He's a Wood-elf, not a Noldorin elf. Wood-elves have dark hair. For purists like me who've read and reread the book, it's an insult. And Aragorn: I'm sorry, he just doesn't look like that. And now the publishers have plastered the movie stars' faces all over the new paperback versions, to remind us that we can't think up our own faces. Everyone should have their own personal Orc. I had my mom paint mine on the back of one of my dulcimers.
The nicest response I got from companies I sent the first demo to was from Lyric Opera of Chicago:
"It's very impressive, but the likelihood of our producing an opera of four and a half hours in length by someone other than Wagner is pretty slim."
Sound clips of our concerts of the show and PDFs of the vocal score are on the LEITHIAN page. With the amazing power of the Web, these clips have been heard by people in Poland, Spain, Mexico, France, the U.K. and I don't know where else. So far I've heard no negative comments.
An opera for children by Adam Klein.
(c)1994 Adam Klein.
People might not be aware that opera is very popular among children. Most large-city opera companies have school outreach programs, usually consisting of a soprano, a mezzo, a tenor and a baritone or bass plus a pianist, and they tour schools and put on little operas, often borrowing music from classical operas (Mozart is a favorite) and adapting it to stories like The Three Little Pigs. The ones that are newly composed usually have saccharin going-nowhere music that I assume the Powers that Be deem suitable for little kids to listen to. Maybe it won't scare them or something. I think these are mistakes. I grew up hearing Bach and Beethoven as well as the Beatles, and the sooner in life people hear such music the sooner they'll understand it, and they'll become smarter just by listening to it. So I set out to write a serious opera for children.
The skeleton story is the familiar Goldilocks one, with some twists. The real subject of the opera is tolerance for those who are different, in this case Baby Bear, who is very smart for his years, and Goldie, who loves baseball and is better at it than most of the boys, which causes no end of ostracization. When they meet and the misunderstanding about the porridge and beds is cleared up, the beginning of a bee-you-tiful friendship is begun. I have uploaded mono sound clips of the demo CD so you can check it out.
The comments I've received from people I've shown it to range from "I could never sell this in South Carolina because Mama Bear is played by the tenor" to "I had no idea the music would be so dark." To which I answer, Mama Bear is not a homosexual man, Mama Bear is a BEAR and adult bears have low voices. To think the kids wouldn't be able to make that leap of imagination is a pretty sad commentary on adults' attitudes towards children. (See LEITHIAN section about movies made from books.) The "dark music" comment is also unwarranted, because this opera won't be performed with a Steinway 9 Foot Grand, but on a Spinet or even an electronic imitation of a piano, neither of which has much bass sound at all. There were, however, some comments that I considered fair and useful; and some revisions have resulted from them.
I hope you like it. If you want to produce it, contact me over email.