On Stage: Coraline, the Opera

In the 16 years since it was published, Neil Gaiman's Coraline "has developed a passionate fan base, selling more than a million copies" and been adapted as a stop-motion movie, video game, comic book and Off Broadway musical. The latest addition to this list is the Royal Opera's avant garde adaptation, with Aletta Collins directing an "angular, complex score" score by Mark-Anthony Turnage for Rory Mullarkey's libretto, the New York Times reported. The production will be staged at the Barbican in London, March 29 to April 7.

Noting that Coraline "is more than a match for operatic heroines like Leonore in Beethoven's Fidelio or Rosina from Rossini's The Barber of Seville," the Times wrote that the role is shared in the new production by the sopranos Mary Bevan and Robyn Allegra Parton.

"She's such a strong female character," Turnage said. "She's powerful; she's going to solve these things. I've got a seven-year-old daughter. She's too young to read the book, but she saw the film, and she was very taken with Coraline." He added that he hopes the audiences for the opera will come from all walks of life: "A lot of opera directors are making opera for other opera directors, and quite a few opera composers are writing for their peer group."

Gaiman told the Guardian he is not concerned with the cutting and condensing of Coraline required for the stage: "Everything changes when you move from medium to medium. Sometimes it makes sense, sometimes you sigh, sometimes you urged it to happen."

The opera is being advertised as suitable for audiences eight or older. Asked if it was any easier producing work for children, Gaiman replied: "It's harder, and you need to be more aware of what you're doing. Adults are more forgiving and more willing to put up with being bored than children are."

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