Children's and Liturgical Opera Company, LLC
www.chancelopera.com
 
CHILDREN'S OPERA: The Wild Swans

THE WILD SWANS

a puppet opera for adults and children
based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale

music and libretto by Susan Hulsman Bingham
puppets by Christine Rugullies

This opera won a special commendation at the Vienna Masterworks
2004 Nancy Van de Vate International Composition Competition for Opera

Some of the puppets for The Wild Swans • Puppets made by Christine Rugullies

VOICING:

Ideal for both professional level and amateur groups. Sop (2; one person can double up on this part), mezzo sop (1), ten (1), bar (1), treble chorus, SATB chorus.

CAST:

Narrator/Father (ten), Good Peasant Woman/Fata Morgana (sop), Wicked Queen (mezzo sop). Part of Princess Elise is sung by treble chorus; part of Seven Swans/Seven Princes is sung by the men's chorus.

ACCOMPANIMENT:

treble chorus, SATB chorus, piano

CHORUS:

treble chorus

DANCE:

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

PROPS:

our company has only done this opera with puppets; these may be made available for rent, along with a puppet stage

SOURCE OF TEXTS:

Andersen fairy tale

LANGUAGE:

English

MUSICAL STYLE:

tonal, melodic, lyrical

SCENES:

one

SOUND SAMPLE:
  Click here to hear Kyle Pruett, tenor, Narrating, the Men's Chorus, and the Children's Chorus of Worthington Hooker Elementary School, New Haven, CT.
DURATION:
  65 minutes

PREMIER:

Worthington Hooker Elementary School students at Sprague Memorial Hall, Yale University, 1984

     

REVIEWS:

" . . . an unalloyed triumph . . . (The Wild Swans) should become part of the music curriculum statewide."
The New Haven Register

"Charming production . . . has to be seen to be believed . . . an elegant opera for children . . . delicate piano score (which the composer herself plays with great fluency) . . . Perfect music to convey Andersen's strange fairy tale world."
The New Haven Register

"An extraordinary achievement from many points of view. It represents the combined efforts of the students, teachers and parents . . . in collaboration with professional singers and puppeteers . . . a skillful and delightful musical score . . . This wonderful opera charmed its audiences."
Fenno Heath, Director Emeritus of the Yale Glee Club.

 

The Executioner and the Archbishop
Puppets for The Wild Swans made by Christine Rugullies

SYNOPSIS

Once upon a time, a wicked queen put a curse on her seven royal stepsons, changing them into wild swans. The swans were forced by the queen's curse to fly all day and land only at night, at which time they could change back into boys for a few dark hours. The queen's stepdaughter Elise was also banished from the palace, and immediately she set out through the forest to search for her brothers. With the help of a saintly peasant woman, she found them, and with difficulty the swans carried her over a vast, stormy ocean in a net to their new home in a friendlier kingdom.

Once in the new land, Elise prayed for a clue to the breaking of the curse, and in a dream she learned that she could save her brothers if she knitted jackets for them out of stinging nettles. She could only gather nettles from churchyards at night, and while she worked, she had to remain completely silent. One word from her lips would cause her brothers to die. Elise awoke, found nettles lying near her, and began knitting.

While out hunting, a young king discovered Elise and took her to his palace. He could not understand why she wept and did not speak. Thinking she missed her forest home, he created a cave inside his castle for her and stocked it with nettles. She joyfully resumed her work, but not without inspiring the suspicians of a cruel archbishop who eventually convinced the lovestricken king that Elise was a witch. The king reluctantly allowed that Elise should be burned at the stake. She was thrown into a dungeon. The swan brothers heard of this and hovered anxiously over the city. At night, Elise's youngest brother visited her at the window of her dungeon cell.

On the day of her execution, Elise was carried in a cart through the city streets while she feverishly continued her knitting. At the last minute, the swans swooped down and beat their wings against the angry crowds. Elise threw the nearly-completed jackets over their backs. Instantly they turned into princes -- all except for one arm of the youngest brother, whose jacket was not quite finished. Elise could speak at last. The crowd rejoiced, and Elise and the young king marched triumphantly to the palace to be married.

About the puppets...

Many of us have a definite idea of what a puppet show should be like, but in fact there are many kinds of puppet shows. If a person sits in a chair and animates a doll, we have a puppet show. Marionettes, finger puppets, shadow puppets, paper bag puppets, hand puppets, rod puppets, or larger-than-life mask puppets may bring a story to life. Puppetry is generally a folk art. In this case, it is a cross between folk and fine art. The puppets in this opera are large, icon-like dolls whose costumes have been carefully researched and created with utmost artistry.

 
The Seven Brothers who were turned into Swans. Puppets by Christine Rugullies

Piano/vocal/percussion score of THE WILD SWANS: $85.
Price includes shipping; it also includes performing rights and permission to make sufficient copies for cast and accompanists for one season.






Downloadable PDF file of the musical score of The Wild Swans: $45.

DVD of The Wild Swans: $28. Price includes shipping within the US.
 

Composer's comment: Great for children's chorus and adult soloists. We have toured this opera several times. It is a favorite. SHB

 

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