Over the next few days, I'll be writing about each of the 7 operas featured on Tapestry New Opera Works' Opera To Go 2008...
The Shaman's Tale
Libretto by Krista Dalby
Composed by Kevin Morse
The Shaman (baritone)
The Shaman enters and tells the story of a man and a woman that tried to have a child but were unsuccessful. The Man and Woman enter (operating large puppets) and tell the Shaman that they will do anything in order to have a child. The Shaman replies that they must travel to the ocean and retrieve the great pearl at the bottom of the ocean. The Man and Woman bow to the Shaman and leave. As they make their journey to the sea, they discover the beauty of the world and are welcomed by farmers in the towns they travel through. Finally, they reach the sea. The Man dives into the ocean, retrieves the pearl, and returns to the surface. When he presents the pearl to the Woman, she realizes that the pearl was in fact a stopper for the ocean, which has begun to drain, which would cause all the fish, people, and plants that depend on it to die. She grabs the pearl, dives into the ocean, and replaces the pearl. Distraught, the Man weeps. The Man and Woman then exit for their journey home. The Shaman takes up the story and tells of how they remembered this story for the rest of their lives, and whenever they grew sad, "they thought of the sea and knew it was a small price to pay."
Much of the action of this story is told through puppets. The Woman and Man operate 12-foot-high puppets as they sing the roles. In addition, there is a screen at the centre of the stage behind which shadow puppets act out other parts of the action, such as the journey to the sea and the underwater sequences. Check out the Tapestry blog for pictures of the making of the puppets by Clay and Paper Theatre.
Opera To Go 2008 runs through February 23rd at the EnWave Theatre in Toronto as part of the Harbourfront Centre's World Stage 08.