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.
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:
Rue———– Lisette Oropesa
Effie Trinkett——– Joyce DiDonato (Don’t we all want to see her singing about manners in a pink wig?!)
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 email@example.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!