“For me, a libretto is just the architecture of the story.” As we move closer to the Minnesota Opera’s world premiere of Paul Moravec’s newest opera The Shining, librettist Mark Campbell offers his perspective on bringing Stephen King’s 1977 best-selling novel to life. Commissioned by the opera company, The Shining is based directly on King’s novel, and premieres on May 7 at The Ordway in St. Paul.
Campbell continues. “The libretto is an adaptation of the novel. I give enough clues and enough information for the audience to follow the story. I think it’s up to the composer to give the story its flesh and designer clothing. I give the story its bones…and the heart for me is in the music. The brain is in the libretto. There are portions of both in the libretto and the music; but I work towards making a story very clear, moving it along quickly enough, and I rely on the composer to give it more of the emotional heft that an opera requires. In the case of adapting The Shining, what was difficult is that the novel is over 600 pages long, so I had to distill the heart of it — the essence of it. It was very important to me to stay true to Stephen King’s original ideas about the story and I think we were successful in preserving those.”