Minnesota Opera announces world premiere of The Manchurian Candidate
Minneapolis–At a preview of its upcoming world premiere of Doubt for Works & Process at New York’s Guggenheim, Minnesota Opera unveiled its plans for another commission: The Manchurian Candidate, with music by Kevin Puts and a libretto by Mark Campbell. The Manchurian Candidate will be Puts’ and Campbell’s second operatic collaboration. Silent Night, also commissioned by Minnesota Opera, earned Puts the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music.
“I have long wanted to commission an operatic thriller,” said Artistic Director Dale Johnson, “and after the incredible experience of Silent Night last season, I was eager to work with Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell again. The Manchurian Candidate is an all-around match made in heaven.”
The Manchurian Candidate is a political thriller that will be based on the 1959 novel by Richard Condon about the son of a prominent U.S. political family who is brainwashed into becoming an unwitting sleeper assassin for a Communist conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government. Condon’s novel inspired two film adaptations. The first film, directed by John Frankenheimer in 1962, starred Laurence Harvey, Frank Sinatra and Angela Lansbury, and is widely regarded to be a masterpiece of its genre. Director Jonathan Demme’s 2004 film updated the action to the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and starred Liv Schreiber, Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep.
“That the term ‘Manchurian candidate’ has been bandied about as recently as on the current Presidential campaign trail proves there’s an enduring fascination with conspiracy theories of massive proportions,” said Johnson. “Strong characters and tantalizing drama make for the best operas, and this story has those in spades. When you think about combining those elements with this existing cultural fixation and put- ting them in the hands of a Pulitzer-winning team, I think we have an incredibly exciting creative process ahead as we move to the premiere of this opera in our 2014–2015 season.”
The Manchurian Candidate is part of Minnesota Opera’s New Works Initiative, a landmark program designed to invigorate the operatic repertoire with an infusion of contemporary works. Since fundraising began in March 2008, Minnesota Opera has raised more than $6.68 million to support the New Works Initiative, which has produced the American premiere of Jonathan Dove’s The Adventures of Pinocchio; revivals of Dominick Argento’s Casanova’s Home- coming and Bernard Herrmann’s Wuthering Heights; and the world premiere of Kevin Puts’ Pulitzer Prize Award-win- ning Silent Night. Doubt, composed by Douglas J. Cuomo with libretto by John Patrick Shanley, makes its world premiere in January 2013, and The Dream of Valentino, newly revised by Dominick Argento, is slated for March 2014.
“That the New Works Initiative has been a success despite the recession is a testament to the power of opera,” said President and General Director Kevin Ramach. “Minnesota Opera is grateful to the donors, visionaries and artists that have made these productions possible. Their work, as once noted in USA Today, ‘restores confidence in the possibilities of contemporary opera as compelling theater.’”