Friday, April 27, 2012

Young Adult Fiction Goes Dystopian, Opera Follows Suit

While the big news at Minnesota Opera this week is that the company’s November world premiere of Silent Night, an opera by Kevin Puts, just netted the Pulitzer Prize for music, this month the company also unveils its newest work, Susan Kander’s The Giver, based on Lois Lowry’s seminal, 1993 young adult novel of the same name.

And it has all the makings of a smart opera, with a dystopian society set in 2065, the coming-of-age of a twelve-year-old boy, and the mitigation of passion and emotionlessness. The plot concerns Jonas, a boy who is designated to become a messianic figure who inherits the memories and feelings of history and his path towards taking on that burdensome yet enlightening role. That Minnesota Opera is presenting this as a work for young, age-appropriate, singers is an even further incision to the heart of Lowry’s work, which won the Newbery Medal in 1994 and was often challenged and banned almost immediately upon publication.  Read More