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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Opera Announcement: Winter is Coming

George R. R. Martin fantasy series Game of Thrones to be staged as opera.
The Iron Throne of Westeros is coming to
the Metropolitan Opera. Image © 2011 HBO Films.
The Metropolitan Opera has announced a surprise new project for next season, an operatic pastiche based on the popular George R. R. Martin novel A Game of Thrones. The project, announced in a secret press conference today in the Metropolitan Opera's boiler room, is the first collaboration between the opera company and HBO Films.

Entitled Winter is Coming, (Vintro Estas Veno), this spectacular opera will be sung in Esperanto, except for the second act. This act, a chronicle of the married history of Daenerys Stormborn, the scion of the Targaryen house who marries horse-lord Khal Drogo, will be sung in Dothraki, the fictional language developed by Mr. Martin for his best-selling series A Song of Ice and Fire. For copyright purposes and to prevent "plot spoilers", MET Titles will be turned off for the performances, at the request of HBO's legal department.

The music, assembled by the award-winning Broadway team of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, will be an exciting pastiche of Wagner, Mussorgsky and Richard Strauss, infused with Mr. Lloyd Webber's own, distinguished Puccini-influenced compositional style. Violinist André Rieu will conduct the work in his house debut, and play the extended violin cadenzas written into the score for him by Mr. Lloyd Webber.

Winter is Coming is a massive opera, requiring choristers to portray peasants, horse-lords and White Walkers, the strange creatures from the north side of the Wall in the kingdom of Westeros. Eventually, the Met plans to stage each of the seven novels in Mr. Martin's unfinished best-selling series as an opera. Each opera will be seven hours in length, counting intermissions, performances will have to start at 9:00 am on Saturday mornings to meet union requirements. A complete cycle of the operas is tentatively planned for the entire 2020 season.

Preliminary casting information includes Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel as Ned Stark, and French-Canadian singing sensation Celine Dion making her Metropolitan Opera debut as the conniving Queen Cersei Lannister. Other casting possibilities include bass Alan Held as the knight Jaime Lannister, soprano Angela Gheorghiu as Catelyn Stark, and singing sensation Lindsey Lohan as Daenerys. Mariusz Kwiecien is in talks to play Robb Stark, and tenor Robert Brubaker has been tapped for the part of the dwarf Tyrion Lannister. Countertenor David Daniels will sing the small but crucial part of Bran Stark.

"We're very excited about Vintro Estas Vento", a Met representative said in an official  statement. "To be honest, we were getting bored staging the Ring year after year. This is a much better use of our resources than dusty old Wagner and German mythology or whatever."

"The most exciting thing about Game of Thrones is that it offers a new, cost-effective way to incorporate 'The Machine'," the representative said. This 45-ton $16-million mobile stage set was originally constructed for the performance of the Robert Lepage production of Wagner's epic Ring cycle. It will be reconfigured into The Wall, The Red Keep at King's Landing, the castle of Winterfell, and other locations within and around the fictional continent of Westeros. 

Best of all is the "throne room" effect, where the stage set can be physically reconfigured into the Iron Throne, the seat of power forged by dragon-fire from the swords of the enemies of Aegon Targaryen, the first king to unify Westeros. "I've seen computer models, and expect the effect of the moving planks to be silent and flawless," a representative said.

Footage developed by HBO's special effects department can be screened right onto the moving planks of the set, without much digital alteration. This will allow the singers and actors to convincingly portray the warring factions of Starks and Lannisters, the families struggling for power in the Medieval-style fantasy world. 

"This saves us the cost of having to design new projections each season," the representative added.

A confidential source told Superconductor: "We were hesitant at first about staging Game of Thrones as an opera, but it's the only way to recoup the losses from the Robert Lepage Ring Cycle. Mr. Gelb is pushing the stage crew hard, trying to win his first Tony as general manager of the Metropolitan Opera House."

"If you want to stage the game of opera," they added, "you win, or you die."

Winter is Coming opens Feb. 30, 2013.

(Note: The above is written in the interest of parody, without the consent of the Metropolitan Opera, HBO, George R. R. Martin or the aforementioned singers, composers and conductor. All artistic materials belong to them and are posted in the interest of parody and fair use.

Hope you have a happy April Fool's Day, and enjoy tonight's premiere of Season Two of Game of Thrones on HBO, and thank you for reading Superconductor.)
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.