MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Opera Thrillers and Chillers

After recently covering a  powerful Flying Dutchman production and the world premiere of The Shining, a new opera by Paul Moravec and Mark Campbell based on the Stephen King novel, I decided to look a little more into the intersection of opera and ghost stories.

Here’s my new piece for Rhapsody. It’s a fascinating but enormous topic. I focused on the early German Romantic lineage, without even broaching the enormous popularity of Walter Scott-inspired Gothic opera (Lucia, etc.). Debussy’s Poe fixation, early Strauss/Hofmannsthal, Expressionism and other Modernist strains, and later manifestations are other topics I didn’t have space for here.

The Shining and Other Opera Thrillers and Chillers

Perched in the Colorado Rockies in the dead of winter, the Overlook Hotel is the setting for Stephen King’s 1977 breakthrough novel The Shining. It is during the off season at the vast resort that King’s fictional aspiring writer, Jack Torrance, takes up residence with his wife and son. He hopes to work on his latest opus in the peace and quiet, with minimal responsibilities as caretaker of the presumably emptied-out hotel to distract him.

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Filed under: essay, new opera, Rhapsody

One Response - Comments are closed.

  1. Mark Rudio says:

    Nice piece, Tom. When I originally saw The Shining the book was still somewhat fresh in my memory and I didn’t like. Rewatching 30 years later and with scarce recollection of the novel’s details, I was gripped by how horrific it really is. But I don’t think the real horror of the film comes from the hotel’s ghosts, but from what do you do when your husband (or father), the one person you need to trust the most, goes insane and becomes homicidal. In that way, the true horror in The Shining is domestic abuse, all too true horror also found in the operas of Berg and Janacek among others.


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