OPERATIC APPROACHES TO WELL-KNOWN STORIES

Here at Balladeer’s Blog I’ve enjoyed sharing my examinations of ancient Greek comedies and how they could be viewed through modern eyes. Up next are these tales restructured for opera format, act by act and by number of singers needed.

franco nero djangoDJANGO

Language: Spanish

Setting: The Texas-Mexico border in 1867 

A two-act opera based on the original Django movie from 1966 starring Franco Nero. Django, a former soldier who served in the Union Army during America’s Civil War has been on a quest for revenge against Major Jackson, the former Confederate Army officer who killed his wife. In the early months of 1867 he finds Jackson and his former Confederate soldiers now turned outright Klansmen along the Texas-Mexico borderlands.

The personal feud between Django and Major Jackson comes to an apocalyptic climax amid Mexico’s ongoing war to bring down their hated Emperor Maximilian. Click HERE.   

gladiator betterGLADIATOR

Language: French

Setting: World War One France, 1920s Hollywood and Washington DC 

A three-act opera based on Philip Wylie’s 1930 science fiction novel Gladiator. The story would follow Hugo Danner, born with extraordinary abilities because of scientific experiments his father performed on his mother while she was pregnant. Danner would struggle with his place in the world and with the meaning of heroism.

That struggle would play out against backdrops like the Western Front in World War One, Hollywood during the silent film era and in corruption-riddled Washington DC. Click HERE

venus in furs picVENUS IN FURS

Language: French

Setting: The Carpathians and Florence, Italy during the 1870s

A two-act opera based on Leopold Sacher-Masoch’s 1870 novel. Severin Von Kusiemski, an aimless creative talent, seeks a muse in the form of the domineering and often cruel beauty named Wanda Von Dunajew. Sacher-Masoch’s depiction of Severin’s complete mental and sexual submission to Wanda was, of course, the origin of the word masochism.

Because the novel was written in 1870, the events presented in the story are just a tad titillating by modern standards. The emphasis in the opera would be on the line between fetishism and feminism plus the timeless power politics in male-female relationships. A certain touch of horror would be introduced when Severin foolishly signs a contract which would even let Wanda kill him if she chooses to. Click HERE.

dune picDUNE

Language: Spanish

Setting: Over 20,000 years in the future on the desert planet Arrakis (Dune) and other planets colonized by Earth people.

A four-act opera based on Frank Herbert’s 1965 science fiction novel. Dune would also be the first in a four-opera cycle. This opening to that cycle would follow the members of House Atreides, House Harkonnen and House Corrino as their conflicts and intrigues unleash a genocidal war on the universe.

The opera Dune would cover the period from the arrival of Duke Leto Atreides and his family on Arrakis through the treacherous attack from the Harkonnens aided by Emperor Shaddam IV of House Corrino. Young Paul Atreides would discover the secret of his mother Lady Jessica’s heritage and the closing song would be Now, My Father, I Can Mourn You. Click HERE

MUAD’DIB

Language and setting would remain the same

A three-act opera continuing the Dune saga. Paul Atreides and Lady Jessica climb the ladder of the Fremen hierarchy while the Beast Rabban inflicts his reign of terror on Arrakis. Meanwhile, House Harkonnen and House Corrino continue their schemes, unaware that any members of House Atreides survived. Gurney Halleck, equally unaware of Paul and Jessica’s survival, throws in with Spice smugglers.

Muad’Dib would end with Lady Jessica’s attempt to use her Bene Gesseret abilities to transform the ceremonial drink from poisonous to non-poisonous. Click HERE

THE PROPHET

Language and setting would remain the same

This third opera in the cycle would consist of two acts. Obviously, it would close out all of the warfare and intrigues of the original Dune novel including the threat to destroy the Spice supply forever, a sandworm-driven assault on Arrakeen and a political marriage to Princess Irulan. 

This opera would end with Lady Jessica’s joyous song History Will Call Us Wives. Click HERE

DUNE MESSIAH

Language and setting would remain the same

This fourth and final opera in the cycle would consist of three acts. While most of it would be devoted to the novel Dune Messiah, it would also contain elements of Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune and Heretics of Dune. Click HERE for the full cycle.  

4 Comments

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4 responses to “OPERATIC APPROACHES TO WELL-KNOWN STORIES

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