Wuorinen's Haroun and the Sea of Stories Opens at New York City Opera

Classic Arts News   Wuorinen's Haroun and the Sea of Stories Opens at New York City Opera
Charles Wuorinen's Haroun and the Sea of Stories, based on the Salman Rushie novel, gets its world premiere at New York City Opera today.

Rushdie wrote the novel after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa, or religious decree, condemning him to death for allegedly anti-Islamic sentiments in his book The Satanic Verses. Haroun, which originated as bedtime stories that Rushdie told to his son, is a parable in which the storyteller Rashid loses his ability to spin tales, and his son sets out to recover it.

"The novel is a cry against the suppression of the imagination and free speech," Wuorinen said. "So it has a kind of underlying social or political message. [But] the tone of the book is uniformly light-hearted, even thought Rushdie was under mortal threat at the time he wrote it."

The opening-night cast includes Heather Buck as Haroun, Peter Strummer as Rashid, and Heather Johnson as Rashid's wife, Soraya. British poet James Fenton wrote the libretto; British theater and opera director Mark Lamos directs. City Opera music director George Manahan is the conductor.

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