These days, the line between legitimate opera and musical theater is a bit blurred.
There’s no confusion which category “The Shining,” set to make its world premiere at The Minnesota Opera on May 7, falls into.
Yes, the modern horror classic, by prolific populist writer Stephen King, has been adapted into a genuine opera, not content to rest on its laurels as a best-selling novel, hit Stanley Kubrick Hollywood film, and even more fulsome 1997 ABC miniseries. This time around, the residents (both living and dead) of the eerie Overlook Hotel are set to sing their guts out.
“The Shining” comes to the Minnesota Opera courtesy of its New Works Initiative, which has commissioned similarly unlikely works such as “Doubt” and “The Manchurian Candidate,” with music by Paul Moravec and a libretto by Mark Campbell. Almost everything about the enterprise seems downright bone-chilling, and that includes menacing press photos of Minnesota Opera favorite Brian Mulligan, who is set to play the homicidal lead Jack Torrance.
With its out-sized emotions, gruesome themes, and relentless terror, the opera house seems an ideal place to make the King characters sing their way to life (which includes a family staying at a haunted hotel, cut off from civilization and sanity over one endless winter), and it’s a sure bet the opera company is hoping to draw in curious ticket buyers by offering up such a well-known title.
Stephen Sondheim, whose his own gruesome masterwork, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” has been performed in both opera houses and Broadway theaters, has famously said opera is defined by the ear and eye of the beholder. For those who chuckle at the notion of a musicalized “The Shining,” they might well enjoy the popular unauthorized musical parody YouTube version “Redrum.” For the more serious-minded, “The Shining” opera will run through May 15.
Doubtless the Minnesota Opera isn’t banking on their version to stir a fit of giggles; they seem to have settled on scaring everyone out of their wits.
Your reservation at the Overlook awaits.