Thursday, October 23, 2014

Can You Sing in Elvish?

Youth Opera members sing in several different languages including Italian, French, Russian, and English. But this fall they will try a new one - Elvish - when Sarasota Youth Opera re-mounts it's production of Dean Burry's The Hobbit in November.

Sarasota Youth Opera 2008 production of The Hobbit

The Hobbit is a classic story of an unwitting hero on a journey. Author J.R.R. Tolkien began The Hobbit as a story for his own children. When he wrote it in book form, it became the mark against which all modern fantasy is measured. It is the first book of Lord of the Rings and the inspiration for most of the genre ever since. As in most adventures, our hero must have companions and a wise guide, encounter many hardships, meet more than a few villains, and finally have the chance to triumph. All of these adventures are spiced with magic, colorful characters, terrifying creatures and, of course, music. Even for those who are not familiar with Tolkien's story, the adventure and characters will become old friends by the end of the opera.

Dean Burry, Canadian composer and librettist, has crafted an operatic fantasy through Middle Earth, which Sarasota Youth Opera will perform May 9 and 10. Last fall, the singers were delighted to meet and sing for Burry. His rapport with the chorus members and willingness to answer their many questions were inspiring. Burry wrote the opera in English, adding phrases in Elvish to set the mood.

To help color this fantasy world, Burry has drawn on a variety of musical styles to represent the various groups of characters: English folk songs for the hobbits, madrigals for the elves, Russian folk songs for dwarves, a little bit of Kurt Weill for goblins, and a habanera-tango for the dragon.

Youth Opera members are excited about bring this piece back to the Sarasota Opera stage for everyone of all ages to enjoy!

Performances of Dean Burry's The Hobbit are Saturday, November 15th at 7:00pm and Sunday, November 16th at 1:30pm. Tickets range from $12 - $55 and are available at or by calling (941) 328-1300. 

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