Described as a "darkly comic retelling of the Beowulf epic," Grendel will play four performances at the New York State Theater in 2006: July 11, 13, 15 and 16. The opera, featuring a score by Goldenthal and a libretto by Tony Award winner Julie Taymor and J. D. McClatchy, will also star mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves as the Dragon, soprano Laura Claycomb as Queen Wealtheow, tenor Jay Hunter Morris as the warrior Unferth and tenor Richard Croft as the blind harpist Shaper. The company will also include David Gagnon, Jonathan Hays, Charles Temkey, Hanan Alattar, Maureen Francis and Sarah Coburn.
Taymor — best known for her direction and design of Disney's The Lion King — will helm the opera, which is based on both the Anglo-Saxon legend and the John Gardner novel. Taymor will also create puppets and masks for the work, a co-production with the Los Angeles Opera. The latter will world premiere Grendel on May 27, 2006.
Grendel, according to press notes, is told from the monster's point of view: "Estranged from nature and outcast from the world of men, Grendel is a passionate thinker trapped in the body of a beast. A killer who can't control his own instincts, the great monster struggles to transcend his condition in a quest for meaning and purpose."
The Grendel creative team comprises George Tsypin (scenic design), Constance Hoffman (costume design), Donald Holder (lighting design) and Michael Curry (co-design with Taymor for puppets and masks).
About the upcoming production, Lincoln Center Festival Director Nigel Redden said in a statement, "I am thrilled that Grendel will be the centerpiece of Lincoln Center Festival 2006. It is especially gratifying that we are able to join with Los Angeles Opera in co-commissioning our largest production to date, Julie Taymor’s production of Elliot Goldenthal’s first opera, for what promises to be an unforgettable 10th Anniversary season for the Lincoln Center Festival." Julie Taymor made history in 1998 as the first female director to earn the Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical for her staging of The Lion King — albeit mere moments after Garry Hynes became the first woman to win a Tony Award for Direction for The Beauty Queen of Leenane. She also earned the Tony for Best Costume Design that night as well. The multi-genre director has filled her resume with Broadway credits (Juan Darien and The Green Bird), film work ("Titus" and "Frida") as well as opera productions ("Oedipus Rex" and the Metropolitan Opera run of "The Magic Flute").
Grendel reteams Taymor with constant collaborator Goldenthal. The composer, himself a multi-faceted artist, has created works for orchestra, theatre, opera, ballet and film. He has worked with Taymor on "Titus," "Frida," Juan Darien and The Green Bird. His other film scores include "The Good Thief," "Batman and Robin," "Batman Forever," "Michael Collins," "A Time to Kill," "Cobb" and "Interview with the Vampire."
Tickets for Grendel will be available in spring 2006. Visit www.lincolncenter.org for more information.