The work, commissioned and premiered by the American Repertory Theater, has a score composed equally by Philip Glass and Robert Moran: a scene written by one is followed by a scene by the other, with transition music provided by each as well.
The libretto is by Arthur Yorinks, author of such children's books as The Flying Latke, Tomatoes from Mars and Ugh.
As for the gruesomeness factor, here's how Glass's publisher, ChesterNovello, describes the plot: "The famous Grimm fairy tale tells of a Wicked Stepmother who murders her stepson and serves him up in a stew to his unsuspecting father. The boy's sister buries her brother's bones under a Juniper Tree, and the child's spirit returns as a singing bird who wreaks vengeance on the evil Stepmother ..."
Nevertheless, according to ChesterNovello, The Juniper Tree "is one of the most tuneful operas in the Glass repertory," a work that "leaves a distinctly poetic, happy impression," gruesomeness notwithstanding.
The Collegiate Chorale is presenting The Juniper Tree as part of its "American Masters" series on Tuesday, March 20, 2007 at 8 p.m. at Alice Tully Hall in New York City's Lincoln Center. No casting has yet been announced, but directing will be Roger Rees, the Welsh-American film and theater actor/director.