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Vocally and Visually Spectacular

MARIA NOCKIN at the première of Goldenthal's opera
'Grendel, Transcendence of the Great Big Bad'

 

On Thursday evening, 8 June 2006, Los Angeles Opera presented the world première of Elliot Goldenthal's opera, Grendel, Transcendence of the Great Big Bad. The composer is well known for his work in film and, as such, was a good risk for the movie capital's leading opera company. Librettists were poet J D McClatchy, who wrote the libretto for Tobias Picker's Emmeline, and Tony Award winning director Julie Taymor, best known for her monumental success with Walt Disney's The Lion King.

Eric Owens as Grendel. Photo © 2006 Robert Millard
Eric Owens as Grendel. Photo © 2006 Robert Millard

It may have been the association with Disney that led some Grendel ticket buyers to take their older children to the opera. As they soon found out, it is not a family-oriented piece. Goldenthal's work is based on John Gardner's 1971 book which tells the Beowulf legend from the monster's point of view and is only indirectly related to the old English epic.

Charles Robert Austin as King Hrothgar. Photo © 2006 Robert Millard
Charles Robert Austin as King Hrothgar. Photo © 2006 Robert Millard

Set designer George Tsypin's 'wall', the malfunctioning of which caused a delay in the production's opening night, was a most attractive structure, especially when bathed by Donald Holder's ethereal, atmospheric lighting. Constance Hoffman's strikingly imaginative costumes along with puppets by Taymor and Michael Curry helped onlookers comprehend the story.

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Copyright © 18 June 2006 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

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