Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell Grooming "Manchurian Candidate" for Operatic Stage
06 Nov 2012
Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts and Richard Rodgers Award-winning librettist Mark Campbell have adapted the 1959 political thriller "The Manchurian Candidate" as an opera, which will debut at the Minnesota Opera during the 2014-15 season.
Minnesota Opera commissioned the piece that is based on the novel by Richard Condon and concerns the son of a powerful U.S. political family who is brainwashed into becoming a political assassin for a Communist conspiracy. It was also adapted into a 1962 film starring Frank Sinatra and Angela Lansbury. A 2004 film remake starred Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep.
Puts and Campbell previously collaborated on Silent Night, which debuted to acclaim at Minnesota Opera last season. It received the Pulitzer Prize for Music.
"That the term 'Manchurian candidate' has been bandied about as recently as on the current Presidential campaign trail proves there's an enduring fascination with conspiracy theories of massive proportions," artistic director Dale Johnson said in a statement. "Strong characters and tantalizing drama make for the best operas, and this story has those in spades. When you think about combining those elements with this existing cultural fixation and putting them in the hands of a Pulitzer-winning team, I think we have an incredibly exciting creative process ahead as we move to the premiere of this opera in our 2014–2015 season."
Minnesota Opera also commissioned playwright John Patrick Shanley to adapt his Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Doubt as an opera with composer Douglas J. Cuomo. Both commissions are part of the company's New Works Initiative.
Campbell is known to theatre fans as the lyricist for Song from an Unmade Bed, a song cycle that features the work of numerous composers who set their music to Campbell's words. He received the first Kleban Foundation Award for lyricist, two Richard Rodgers Awards and a New York Foundation for the Arts Playwriting Fellowship. He penned lyrics for And the Curtain Rises, The Audience, Splendora, Akin and Light Shall Lift Them. His operas also include Volone, Later the Same Evening, Bastianello/Lucrezia, Rappahannock County and Silent Night.
Holed up in a seedy motel on the edge of the Mojave Desert, two former lovers unpack the deep secrets and dark desires of their tangled relationship, passionately tearing each other apart. Led by director Daniel Aukin (Back Back Back at MTC, 4,000 Miles), Tony winner Nina Arianda (Venus in Fur at MTC, Born Yesterday) and Sam Rockwell (A Behanding in Spokane, The Way Way Back) bring an explosive intensity to Sam Shepard’s (Buried Child, True West) landmark myth of the new Wild West.