The opera is based on Minneapolis author Kate DiCamillo's novel "The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane."
By Rob Hubbard Special to the Star Tribune
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Opera companies don't customarily cater to kids.
Oh sure, you'll find an occasional holiday production of Engelbert Humperdinck's "Hansel and Gretel" or Gian Carlo Menotti's "Amahl and the Night Visitors." And Mozart's "The Magic Flute" can work well for all ages. But most of the time, operas are given over to death and desire, with vengeance, sex, love and murder the dominant driving forces.
Into that void of kid-friendly opera steps "Edward Tulane," which premiered Saturday in St. Paul, courtesy of Minnesota Opera. Composer Paola Prestini and librettist Mark Campbell have adapted Minneapolis author Kate DiCamillo's book for young readers — "The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane" — into a tender tale about keeping a soft heart in a hard world. Staying admirably true to the book's sweet spirit, it's a production that can engage a multi-generational audience with its score, story and eye-popping visuals.
Prestini's arias and orchestrations are a paradoxical combination of simplicity and complexity. Vocal lines move in unpredictable directions — sometimes barely moving at all — and the composer eschews comforting resolutions in favor of chords that keep you hanging. While audiences are unlikely to leave the Ordway Center with any particular melodies stuck in their heads, the emotions evoked will likely stay with them.
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