A supernatural mist surrounds a small town grocery store, trapping local residents inside. A man, with his young son, has to decide if the danger is found with the monsters outside or the people within. Based on the short story entitled The Mist by Stephen King, the world premiere opera has the suspense of a horror movie combined with the complicated, melodic music of a modern American opera performed in English.
Opera often seems daunting to the theater-going public, but the works usually have the characteristics of today’s box office titans – featuring murder plots, love stories, action, and suspense – albeit it at a much slower pace and often sung in Italian, French, or German.
Speaking to that slower pace of traditional opera, I wanted to present a side of the genre that moves along with a realistic style of plotting. The characters in Children in the Mist don’t sing arias for ten minutes as they die, they keel over and bleed out. In a style more expected for today’s audiences, most of the action takes place during the songs, not before or after the characters sing. They discuss and worry about what to do, have real conversations, talk about their families, and how to get back to them.
Creating a horror opera also gives me the opportunity to use stage blood. Who doesn’t love stage blood?
Horror works best when you can relate to the characters in the story. Receiving the rights to adapt The Mist by Stephen King thanks to his generous dollar baby program gave me a great “what would you do” plot. If you were in this situation would you leave the store and try to go home? Would you stay and wait for rescue? Turn or away from God as events unfold? Some characters make choices out of selfishness, while others are self-sacrificing. Ultimately it leads to a standoff between the town’s residents inside the store while they are further attacked by creatures within the mist outside.
Having worked in the D.C. Opera community for the past 10 years, I also have the benefit of knowing many of the area’s talented singers. Even better, I was able to write pieces just for some of them, allowing them to show off their voices in the best ways possible. In fact, five of the leading roles were tailored to the talents of five people who accepted “their” roles and are now joined by 18 others.
While I have arranged and composed music prior to this epic 2 year journey, I am thrilled by the results and hope that this horror opera makes the art form more accessible, bringing new fans to see the great works of Puccini and Verdi, too!
Children in the Mist – a horror opera – is being produced for the 2012 Capital Fringe Festival by innovativi Riverbend Opera Company at:
GALA Hispanic Theatre at Tivoli Square, 3333 14th St NW.
Purchase tickets here, or call the box office: (866) 881-4111.