Broadway lyricist Sheldon Harnick, best known for Fiddler on the Roof, Fiorello! and She Loves Me, has written the libretto for a new opera, Coyote Tales, which had its world premiere Mar. 7 at Lyric Opera of Kansas City, MO.
The opera, with music by Henry Mollicone, is a retelling of five Native American legends: the Crow tale "Old Man Coyote Makes the World," the Okanagon tale "Coyote Keeps His Name," the Karok tale "How Coyote Brought Fire to the People," the Klamath tale "Coyote in Love with a Star" and the Hopi tale "Coyote and Pavayoykyasi."
A central character, the Storyteller (played in the Kansas City production by baritone Brian Steele) narrates and interweaves the stories.
The Kanas City Star was enthusiastic about the Coyote Tales, calling it "effective ... alternately tender and mischievous" and praising "some moments of orchestral magic, notably the wandering, weaving interlude when the cuckolded Pavayoykyasi sets out after Coyote."
Other cast members included tenor Michael Ballam as Coyote and mezzo Jane Gilbert as the Fox. The director was Vincent Liotta and Russell Patterson (Lyric Opera's artistic director ) conducted. --By Rebecca Paller