Children's and Liturgical Opera Company, LLC
www.chancelopera.com

CHILDREN'S OPERA: Folktale Operas

 
 

FOLKTALE OPERAS

eighteen tiny folktale operas from around the world based on tales

submitted by students of Worthington Hooker Elementary School

music and libretto by Susan Hulsman Bingham
sets and costumes by Vladimir Shpitalnik

Worthington Hooker Elementary School students rehearsing for a performance of
FOLKTALE OPERAS Photo: New Haven Register

 

VOICING:

 

Narrator and treble chorus

CAST:

 

20-50 miming (child) actors and treble chorus with piano, synthesizer and percussion

ACCOMPANIMENT:

 

treble chorus, SATB chorus

CHORUS:

 

treble chorus

DANCE:

 

none unless this opera is staged (rather than using puppets)

PROPS:

 

our company has only done this opera with puppets; inquire about rental of puppets.

SOURCE OF TEXTS:

 

traditional folktales from around the world; some were made up by the students

LANGUAGE:

 

English

MUSICAL STYLE:
  harmonic and tonal but with attempts at sounding like the country from which the tale originates

SCENES:

 

up to eighteen. Pieces can be mixed and matched.

DURATION:

 

60 minutes

DEDICATION:
 

FOLKTALE OPERAS are dedicated to LUCY DE VRIES DUFFY

PREMIER:

 

Sprague Memorial Hall, Yale University, 1992

 

SYNOPSES of FOLKTALE OPERAS

1. TALE
a Korean foiktale told by Mrs. Yoo and In Wook Yoo
from GETTING THE WHOLE WORLD BY THE TALE, Lucy De Vries Duffy, ed

A bridegroom has spent years filling a box with tales. The tales plan to escape on his wedding day. Hearing the plan, the bridegroom agrees to open the box a tiny bit, letting one tale out at a time. He opens the box such a small crack, however, that at first only fragments of nursery rhymes escape. Hear a sound slip of the opening by clicking here. (Performance by third and fourth grade students of Worthington Hooker Elementary School with Timothy Bingham, narrator)

2. GOOSE RHYME MEDLEY
Fragments of rhymes many English-speaking children have heard.


3. MICE CONSULATATION

an Indian folktale told by Pinky Chakrabarty

A man is troubled by mice and acquires a cat. The mice discuss how to get rid of the cat, but no plan seems just right. Putting a bell around the cat’s neck seems the best idea. But — putting a bell around a cat’s neck is not so easy.


4. THE TOAD AND THE FLY
a Philippine folktale told by Sara Ortega

A fly, caught by a toad1 confuses him by begging him to eat her. He does not want to fulifll her wish, so he lets her go. The toad is proud and never and never realizes he has been tricked.


5. MOON CAKE DAY
a Chinese folktale told by Yi Qing Ma

It is long ago in China. A man gives his wife a cake, telling her to wait until he returns from a long trip before she eats it. She cannot wait. As soon as she has taken one bite, she flies to the moon. The husband invents Moon Cake Day in memoty of her.


6. APPLE HARVEST
an Irish folktale told by Gary Cullinan

Two men argue about whether it had been a good year for apples. A third man enters and takes sides for a funny reason.


7. THE SPARROW’S PROBLEM
an original Chinese folktaleby Tian Jiang

Hawks threaten a flock of spariows. The sparrows invent a special way of saving themselves.


8. FIERCE CREATURE
a Kenyan folkiale submitted by Margaret Pritchard

A caterpillar sneaks into hare’s house to rest. Hare and many others fear that the caterpillar is a terrible beast until frog enters and sets things straight.


9. LITTLE WALKING TREE
a Venezuelan foIktale told by Eileen Quintero

Rabbit and Monkey play a trick on Tiger. On seeing how angry Tiger becomes, Rabbit disguises himself as a little tree. Little Walking Tree gets so thirsty that he has to go to the water. Tiger finds him there and learns who tricked him.


10. CLEONA AND THE EVIL BABD
an Irish folkiale told by Colleen Roxbee

Evil Babd kidnaps the newborn prince and exiles the prince’s mother on a rock in the sea. Years later, fairies and horses find them. Babd turns herself into a crow and flies over the sea to get them back, but the noe-grown prince, with his new powers, makes Babd remain a crow forever before returning to his joyful kingdom.


11. THE FOOLISH MAN
a Korean folktale by Ah Reum Kim

A foolish man leaves his precious silks with the Buddha, planning to collect payment the following day. In the night, bandits come and take the cloth. The foolish man returns expecting his money. In anger, he pushes over the Buddha and discovers treasure the bandits have left there.


12. SPOT
an original American folktale by Tara Kluytenaar

A turtle walks on a beach. A giant crab jumps on his back. The turtle tries to shake him off but does not succeed. This is how the turtle got his shell.


13. THE TRIAL OF THE EGG
an Israeli folktale told by Amos Milo

Two shepards eat lunch. One, still hungry, asks the other for his boiled egg and promises to replace it after a time. When the egg is not replaced, the angry shepherd demands money in return, saying that the egg would have hatched by now into hens who in turn would have hatched more eggs. The matter is taken to King David, who rules in favor of the angry shepherd. Prince Solomon, then only a child, does not agree and makes an ingenious plan to prove the kind wrong.


14. AN OLD MAN WHO MAKES FLOWERS BLOOM
a Japanese folktale by Meriko Iwai

A kind old couple find gold on a mountain. Ajealous old neighbor tries to find gold the same way and fails. In his rage, he kills the couple’s dog. A tree grows where the dog is buried, and from the tree the kind old man makes a wooden bowl and places rice in it which turns to gold. The nasty neighbor sees the bowl, puts rice in it, but gets stones instead of gold. In his rage he burns the bow. The kind old couple scatter the ashes of the bowl all around, and flowers begin blooming in winter. Hearing the story, the emperor gives the couple more gold as a gift.


15. THE THREE HUNTERS
a funny folkiale from Yugoslavia told by Sasa Durasevik

This story is told in Mr. Durasevik’s own words.

Once upon a time there were three friends, well known hunters. Two were without their weapons and the third one didn’t have a gun. One day they went hunting for rabbits. After half a day walking through woods and chasing rabbits, they suddenly did not see anyone. Two rabbits ran away and the hunters didn’t catch the third one. So they took the rabbit they didn’t catch and brought it to the neavby house that didn’t have roof, walls or windows. They asked the housekeeper that wasn’t there to lend them a pot so they could cook the rabbit they didn’t catch. He said that he had three pots, two broken and one without a bottom. The hunters were very happy, took one without bottom and cooked the rabbit they didn’t catch. They enjoyed the food that wasn’t there and happily went back to their village.


16. THE HARE AND THE TURTLE
an original Chinese folktale told by Michelle Liu

Hare and turtle brag ahout who is stronger and can win a race. They choose a large rock to drag. The race begins. Turtle’s tail breaks and he yells for the race to stop. The moral Of the stoty: do not tease, for there are reasons why things are the way they are.


17. HOW PIZZA WAS INVENTED
an original North American folktale by Rollin Hutner~O’Brien

Dairy, vegetable and bakery markets ply their separate trades. One day they discover that their ads have been placed side by side in the newspaper. They get into a food fight. The resulting mess on the sidewalk is tasted; pizza.


18. THE BLUEFISH STORY
an original international* folktale by Taylor Jones • storyteller’s narration by Ms. Jones.

Macintosh, the Bluefish, has a school of fish which is threatened by a huge fisherman’s net. Macintos saves them all by leaping into the fishermen’s boat. As he dies, he finds himself in fresh, green water. His beloved school appears, and he sees that families of fish are reproducing and happy. He realizes that everything is going to be all right. ("He has entered fish heaven," said Taylor.)

*The tale is "international" because it takes place in international waters.


19. FINALE: PEACE BE WITH YOU
(with regrets that we could not use many more languages)

• • •

FOLKTALE OPERAS is the culminating project of an Arts-in-Education Residency program funded by a grant from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, a state agency whose funds arerecommended by the governor and appropriated by the state legislature, and by a grant from the New Haven Public Education Fund, Inc.

 

Yi Ching during a performance of FOLKTALE OPERAS
Photo: The New Haven Register

 

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Musical score: $50. Price includes shipping and handling within the U.S. Price also includes performing rights and permission to make as many copies of the score as needed for cast and accompanist for one company's use for one season.


Downloadable PDF file of FOLKTALE OPERAS: $25.


DVD available which includes libretto: $28. Price includes shipping and handling in the U.S.



 

Composer's comment: This score contains a wide variety of short pieces which can be mixed and matched. Use soloists when you have a voice that is strong enough; otherwise the chorus can sing everything while individual children act out parts. Fun percussion parts too, and the flavors of the various countries come through.