Kansas City Prepares for World Premiere of Susan Kander’s The Giver!

New, Thrilling, and the Very Stuff of Opera

This month, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s offers the world premiere of Susan Kander’s latest opera The Giver. Co-commissioned with the Minnesota Opera, and directed by Linda Ade Brand, The Giver opens on January 14th conducted by Paula Winans. Based on the award-winning Lois Lowry novel, the opera features Kander’s own libretto. Author Lowry will be on hand and will join Kander in a pre-concert talk about creating this new musical setting.

“Ask anyone, under age 28, about The Giver and you’ll get a strong response,” Kander reflects. “For many young people, The Giver is the first book they read that truly talks up to them. It demands a level of both outward observation and inward reflection that is new, and, judging from the passion so many feel for the book, thrilling.

Due to the story’s intensity and internal conflict, as Kander set her adaptation she envisioned the opera as a mainstage production that travels well beyond the young-singers genre. Also, one of the elements not overtly found in Lowry’s story — and so needed in a opera — was a chorus to move the action along. Stage director Linda Ade Brand observes, “Susan has done an amazing job telling a fascinating and complex tale in all of 1 hour and 15 minutes. She’s framed the story with a greek chorus, as if this were an annual retelling of events in the past, making the story work as a most thought-provoking cautionary tale.”  Kander adds “Just as in Euripides, the Chorus frames the narrative we are about to witness; it reveals the thoughts of the characters; it discusses events and characters amongst itself; it entertains us; it carries the action forward; it sets the stage and creates theatrical effects; and it provides the actor/singers for all but the principal roles.”

 Minnesota Opera Preview:

THE GIVER is the first opera commissioned for Minnesota Opera’s vocal training program Project Opera, which provides young singers with authentic, hands-on operatic experiences through singing and performing. It’s been a long-held idea to turn Lois Lowry’s novel into an opera. I first read it years ago while I was a band teacher and was struck by the power of the story, the overarching themes and the richness of Jonas’ emotional discovery. The story itself is very operatic…and by performing THE GIVER, young singers have the additional opportunity to take part in the creation of new work.

— Jamie Andrews, Community Education Director


Minnesota Opera’s own production will be staged by Octavio Cardenas and runs from April 28th – 30th.

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