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“Why The Hunger Games Would Make a Great Opera” Competition

I have just returned from The Hunger Games, the highly anticipated film, based on the first book in a series of books by Suzanne Collins. I have only read the first book in the series, and I’m planning to read the second and third when I can get a copy of them. The movie was a faithful adaption of the book, with skilled acting and elaborate and astounding production values. It is highly recommended to any fan of the books. While it is 2 1/2 hours long, the movie is highly worth the time.

While enjoying the film, I had tons of ideas running through my head. One idea that stood out to me was the inherent drama in the film, and how it could easily be adapted to an opera. The film has passion, intense battle scenes, a fantasy element (terrifying dog-things) and a compelling plot. There is also a romantic subplot revolving around the tributes Katniss and Peeta. This is the type of things operas are made of! I’ve decided to dissect the movie, and break it down. Not many theaters could stage a direct adaption, but I think it’s important to see all the potential a movie like this could have as an opera.

In the beginning of the movie, we see the hopeless and destitute members of District 12, where Katniss and Peeta hail from. You can’t help but imagine these destitute residents singing a chorus evocative of ‘Va Pensiero’. We notice the oppressed members of a society weakened by government rule. What other operas have weak societies affected by government rule? Nabucco as we already mentioned, but also the Scotland of Macbeth, and the China of Turandot. The similarities are imminent.

When the tributes, those who are to fight in the Hunger Games, are chosen in a ceremony called “The Reaping”, we can mentally see another chorus of Verdian proportions. When the Tributes enter The Capitol for the first time, the scene is a strong reminder of the Triumphal March from Aida.

Don't you see the similarities?

Another contributing factor to an opera would be the characters, and they run plentiful here. How many opera heroines do you know who are strong and determined like Katniss? Minnie in La Fanciulla, Brunhilde in The Ring, and many others. There is so much to work with. My vision for the cast specifications would be:

Katniss———–A lyric or spinto soprano.
Peeta————-A light lyric tenor.
Rue (District 11 tribute)————–Coloratura soprano.
Gale (Friend of Katniss’ from District 12)————– Light lyric baritone.
Effie Trinkett (Leader and announcer for District 12)————- Coloratura mezzo.
Cinna (Katniss’ personal stylist)——————–Countertenor (See the potential we have here people?!)
Haymitch (Katniss and Peeta’s mentor)—————-Baritone
President Snow———— Bass

There are many other characters but I thought I would just give you a few of the main ones. These characters could be played by:

Katniss———-Layla Claire.
Peeta———–Dimitri Pittas
Rue———– Lisette Oropesa
Gale———Nathan Gunn
Effie Trinkett——– Joyce DiDonato (Don’t we all want to see her singing about manners in a pink wig?!)
Cinna——–David Daniels
Haymitch———- James Morris
President Snow—————- Ferruccio Furlanetto

The Met Opera Students Twitter Page said that a good Hunger Games Opera Cast would be:

Katniss – Layla Claire
Peeta – Juan Diego Florez
Gale – Luca Pisaroni
Effie – Joyce DiDonato
President Snow – Placido Domingo
Haymitch – Bryn Terfel
Cinna – Anthony Roth Costanzo

These are just some of the ideas off the top of my head. I would love to hear what you all think! Who would you cast in The Hunger Games, The Opera?

With the Hunger Game’s extensive plot line, and the fact that there are two sequels, we must think, would this story work best as a series of operas like The Ring? Should the story play out over a few nights at the opera? The composer, whoever you may hope him or her to be, would have to decide. It’s hard to make such a huge and intense plot work in one evening, or a few hours. The composer and librettist would have to decide whether to remain totally faithful to the original plot, or edit it and tailor it to their needs.

There are so many aspects and facets to making The Hunger Games into an opera, from the singers, to the production detail. Would the epic battle play out best on something like Lepage’s Machine, or something elaborate like Zeffirelli? There’s endless possibilities!

So to you, readers of Opera Teen, I propose a challenge. You leave me who you would have compose, write a libretto, and cast in the Hunger Games opera. Also tell me who you would use to create a production for the Hunger Games Opera in the comments, and you may win a $20.00 Met Opera Shop gift card!(Comte Ory is coming out on DVD soon so I would look out!) Feel free to depart from the ideas for voice types and such that I already mentioned. The only caveat is that all your choices(singers, composers, librettists, cast etc.) must be alive and working today. This means that while you can’t choose Verdi to compose, you can choose Philip Glass or Rufus Wainright. You can also send your entries to operateenblog@gmail.com.The entries will be judged by our celebrity judge, Olivia Giovetti, of WQXR. She is the host of The New Canon, a radio show featuring new pieces of classical music, and an author of the WQXR blog, Operavore. Who better to judge? Judging will consist on creativity (Be creative but be realistic as well.), how specific you are about you’re production, and whether Olivia Giovetti thinks you’re opera could make it in the modern and real world! The end of the contest will be Saturday, April 14th, at 12:00 AM. A date for the announcing of the contest winner will be decided soon.

Good luck opera fans.

May the odds be ever in your favor!

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6 comments on ““Why The Hunger Games Would Make a Great Opera” Competition

  1. This seems like a great premise! Unfortunately, I know absolutely nothing about “The Hunger Games” :/

  2. David Daniels as Cinna…I think I’m in love.

  3. I realise we weren’t supposed to fach this whole thing up, but it was so much fun, so I did.

    For the two main roles (Katniss and Peeta) I see two possibilities. If one would want to emphasise the romance of it all, then I would suggest doing a Bellini and making Katniss a soprano and Peeta a mezzo, just like Capuleti e Montecchi. The romantic possibilities would be endless. But if not, here is my suggestion:

    Katniss – Lyric mezzo with dramatic capabilities
    Peeta – Lyric baritone
    Rue (District 11 tribute) – Coloratura soprano
    Gale (Friend of Katniss’ from District 12) – Lyric tenor (I’m thinking something like Tamino)
    Effie Trinkett (Leader and announcer for District 12) – High coloratura soprano (as in I can sing HIGH, worship me, peeps)
    Cinna (Katniss’ personal stylist) – High tenor (I’m thinking like Quint in The Turn of the Screw, although without all that ghost business)
    Haymitch (Katniss and Peeta’s mentor) – Buffo bass-baritone
    President Snow – Basso profundo (I’m thinking high inquisitor here)

    Katniss (1st option) – Camilla Nylund
    Peeta (1st option) – Joyce DiDonato

    Katniss – Marlena Ernman or Marianne Beate Kielland
    Peeta – Chris Maltman
    Rue (District 11 tribute) – Lisette
    Gale (Friend of Katniss’ from District 12) – Daniel Behle
    Effie Trinkett (Leader and announcer for District 12) – Diana Damrau (DD in a pink wig singing about manners would be rather amazing as well)
    Cinna (Katniss’ personal stylist) – Ian Bostridge
    Haymitch (Katniss and Peeta’s mentor) – Alessandro Corbelli
    President Snow – Matti Salminen

    Composer: Thomas Ades
    Libretto: Richard Thomas

    I actually think the Machine could do very well in an opera like this. It could provide hiding space, as well as some very interesting battle scenes. Also, its projecting capabilities would come in handy for all the forests and things.
    Another option would to set the Games in a kind of updated baroque theatre, like in the Glyndebourne Giulio Cesare.

  4. The Hunger Games: The New Opera Sensation

    Composer: Philip Glass
    Librettist: Suzanne Collins – considering she also wrote the screenplay, I don’t think anyone would be able to adapt to opera quite so well. I think a full-on collaboration with Philip Glass is in order.

    Katniss – Joyce DiDonato (kicking ass and taking names – needs to be a mezzo!)
    Prim – Susanna Phillips
    Peeta – Alice Coote (Picture it. Just picture it.)
    Rue – Nicole Cabell (Since Rue and Prim are supposed to be so similar, I decided on my personal favorite Paminas!)
    Gale – Juan Diego Florez
    Effie – Natalie Dessay (preferably in the highest register imaginable. I imagine “That is mahogany!!” at triple-forte on something like a high F-sharp.)
    Cinna – Erwin Schrott
    Snow – Bryn Terfel
    Seneca – Roberto Alagna
    Haymitch – Jonas Kaufmann (hnnnnnng)

    Production: I don’t know much about the actual production of opera. BUT, I also agree that the Machine could be magnificent. Other than that… I’d like to see something like Lyric Opera of Chicago’s recent production of The Tales of Hoffman, where you don’t realize that the entire opera is set in something like a train station – or the Arena – until something major like a train – or the Cornucopia – shows up and makes the audience go “OH!”

  5. Wow, Cinna as a countertenor would be absolutely amazing!!!!

  6. I could imagine it with a John Adams score

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