Metropolis Ensemble, led by Grammy-nominated conductor Andrew Cyr, is delighted to announce its collaboration with The Opera Group and Opera North: “The Firework Maker’s Daughter” a new opera by David Bruce and Glyn Maxwell based on the enchanting novel by acclaimed author Philip Pullman. The family-friendly production will be presented May 3-12, 2013 at The New Victory Theater in New York City.
This captivating opera tells the story of one girl’s quest to become a firework maker. Determined to master Crackle Dragons, Leaping Monkeys and Golden Sneezes, Lila tests her talents and gambles her good fortune as she parlays with pirates, grapples with ghosts and faces off with a ferocious fire-fiend.
“The Firework Maker’s Daughter” features an internationally-inspired score by David Bruce and a witty libretto by Glyn Maxwell and a cast of five artists who enliven shadow puppets from Cambridge, England’s Indefinite Articles. Metropolis artists, including nine players, will perform this chamber opera in two acts, set in a fantastical land where animals talk, goddesses reign and imps dwell.
Philip Pullman is the author of several best-selling books, most notably the fantasy trilogy “His Dark Materials,” including Northern Lights which was adapted for film in 2007 as “The Golden Compass” starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. He published “The Firework Maker’s Daughter” in 1996, incorporating his love for the inventive names of pyrotechnics like incandescent fountain and scarlet volcano. In an interview with Scholastic, he said the idea for the book “came from my childhood when we used to have fireworks every year on Guy Fawkes Night… And I’d never lost that love of fireworks, so I thought it would be nice to do a story all about them.”
Mr. Pullman suggests that theater is most valuable to us because it invites us to pretend together and that, by joining in, we make the journey something we share. The author provides audiences one undeniably adventuresome opportunity to do so, as his novel jumps from page to stage in this full-blown puppet opera. From aspiring adolescent firework makers who contend with pirate crews to an entrepreneurial albino elephant, nothing is too much for the imagination and it’s all a delectable dose of exactly what Mr. Pullman prescribes:
“Children need to go to the theater as much as they need to run about in the fresh air. They need to hear real music played by real musicians on real instruments as much as they need food and drink. They need to read and listen to proper stories as much as they need to be loved and cared for… If you deprive them of art and music and story and theater, they perish on the inside.”
Composer David Bruce is a native of Stamford, Connecticut who grew up in England and has a growing reputation on both sides of the Atlantic. Metropolis Ensemble has collaborated on multiple projects with Mr. Bruce, including “Groanbox,” “LOOP,” and most recently “Music Box.” He received his third Carnegie Hall commission Steampunk last year, and new commissions from The Silk Road Ensemble and the London Philharmonic in 2012.
Mr. Bruce recalls his own connection to the stage and the creation of this new opera:
“Since my own childhood I have thought of the theatre as a colourful place of magic and fantasy and as I’ve grown older I am still attracted to those same aspects – for me there is not really a difference between children’s theatre and adult theatre – as I see it, it’s all ‘play’ and we are all children… In the theatre we allow ourselves to wonder – to question ‘what if’ – and the question can sometimes be absurd or comical in nature, but other times be something much more profound. In a largely secular society, the theatre is one of the few places where we can still ask ourselves the big questions, and still feel wonder in all its aspects. My instinct as an artist is to set those big questions in a context that allows us to laugh, smile and relax.”
“The Firework Maker’s Daughter” makes its world premiere at Hull Truck in Yorkshire on March 23, 2013 and tours the UK at Linbury Studio and Royal Opera House in April, before coming to America and The New Victory Theater in May. Located in the heart of Times Square and 42nd Street, this historic jewel box theater (the oldest operating in New York City) is tricked out especially for families.
Tickets are now available for children 8+ and imaginations of all ages!
Co-produced by The Opera Group and Opera North in association with ROH2 and Watford Palace Theatre. Co-commissioned by The Opera Group and ROH2. Orchestral Partner: Metropolis Ensemble. Art credit for The New Victory Theater: Tom Slaughter