J. R. R. Tolkien Story Is Set by American Composer
The world premiere of Part Two of LEITHIAN, an opera by by Adam Klein, will be presented Saturday, April 14, 2007 at 3 PM and Sunday, April 15, 2007 at 7 PM, at the music hall of St. Michael’s Church, 225 West 99th Street, New York City.
The cast will include soprano Tami Swartz, Metropolitan Opera tenor Adam Klein, jazz legend Valery Ponomarev, Metropolitan Opera basses Steven Fredericks and Nathan Bahny, NYGASP mezzo-soprano Dianna Dollman, baritone C. David Morrow, bass Walter Du Melle, tenor Stefan Paolini, and soprano Anita Lyons. Elizabeth Hastings will play piano and conduct a small instrumental ensemble. This will be a concert performance.
For those familiar with the recent Tolkien films but not the books, LEITHIAN, or Release from Bondage, takes place in the First Age of Middle-earth, when Sauron was but a captain of an even greater evil being, Morgoth the Black Enemy. (The stories of THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS occur in the Third Age.) It is the heroic tale of how Beren and Lúthien – ancestors of Aragorn, Arwen and Elrond – achieved what the entire Elvish army could not: rescue one of the three Silmarils (luminous jewels made by the great Elf-smith Fëanor) from Morgoth’s Crown. It is also the story of the first union between Elf and Man (the last being Arwen and Aragorn).
ASCAP member Adam Klein, who studied composition with John Lessard and Donald Erb, has been a singer since age 4 and a composer since age seven. He began LEITHIAN in 1982 after reading that Tolkien had hoped his stories would be set to music. Completed in 1992, this epic opera (four and one half hours of music plus intermissions) is faithful to its source: the story was not altered and no characters were omitted or conflated. The libretto blends texts by Tolkien and the composer, the former’s being too incomplete to draw from exclusively. The concerts on April 14 and 15 will present the second half of the piece, though like THE LORD OF THE RINGS it was written as one continuous drama. The first half was premiered last July at Liederkranz Hall. Klein is son of Juilliard piano grad and former New York Times music critic Howard Klein, and American realist painter Patricia Windrow.
J. R. R. Tolkien, who began writing THE SILMARILLION in 1917, worked on it for the rest of life, never completing it. His first book, THE HOBBIT, was published in 1937. The three volumes of THE LORD OF THE RINGS were completed in 1955. It was left to Christopher Tolkien, after his father’s death in 1973, to complete THE SILMARILLION.
Tickets at the door will be $20 for adults, $10 for children 12 and under.
LEITHIAN is based on THE SILMARILLION by J. R. R. Tolkien, © 1977 George Allen & Unwin (Publishers) Ltd., and is used by permission.