Stephen King's novel The Shining has been adapted into a movie, a TV miniseries, and now into an opera! If you are lightning fast (and lucky) you might be able to see it on stage at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts because Minnesota Opera is giving this new world premiere opera four performances in Saint Paul. I've had my ticket for months now and after the spectacular productions this year, I can't wait to see how this modern English language opera (music by Paul Moravec and libretto by Mark Campbell) will conclude the Minnesota Opera's 2015-2016 season.
Jeni Houser plays the role of Mrs. Grady in The Shining (also Johanna in this year's Mill City Summer Opera's production of Sweeny Todd!) answers some questions about what it's been like playing a ghost and her musical inspirations. Enjoy...
Stephen King's best-selling novel "The Shining" was first published in 1977
What's it been like working on a "horror" opera, so far?
It's very exciting for me to play a ghost (Mrs. Grady, murdered by her husband), and the nuance the leads bring to their roles is going to make the living characters extremely compelling. I'm impressed with the dramatic commitment Brian Mulligan and Kelly Kaduce have shown in rehearsal, and in performance I think they will be completely captivating. Music frequently plays an important role in creating tension and suspense in film, so the idea of using music to bring a "horror" story to live performance is great. Paul Moravec's music is full of drama and intensity, so the rehearsal process has been invigorating.
I have read the book, but I've never actually seen the movie. I'm not a huge horror fan historically, so I read the book in preparation for the opera, knowing that there are some differences between the book and movie and that our production is very definitely based on the novel. I LOVED the book, and would highly recommend everyone read it before, during (only for expert multi-taskers), or after they see our production.
Potent, gripping, and memorable.
What inspired you to become a singer?
I have always loved to sing, and I was particularly inspired by some vocal greats including Ella Fitzgerald and Barbara Bonney. You can HEAR the emotion in their voices. I am moved by the purity of the voice as well as its incredible communicative ability, and I strive to be vulnerable and strong at the same time in my singing.
What is next for you after The Shining?
Actually, another horror show of sorts! I'll be performing the role of Johanna in Sondheim's Sweeney Todd with Mill City Summer Opera in Minneapolis. Johanna is almost ghostly in a dreamy way, although hopefully she'll make out of that show alive, unlike Mrs. Grady.
Contact the Minnesota Opera for Ticket Availability
And to learn more about The Shining, please visit mnopera.org/the-shining. There you will find a full synopsis, artist biographies, background notes, audio clips, set and costume renderings, and other company information.