KidsOp Wizard Things


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by Mervyn Burtch and Mark Morris 
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suitable for
scores and parts
the story
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- productions by schools using school resources
- productions by professional companies working with schools or community choirs

Adult singers:
6 adult singers, medium voice (written for inexperienced singers)
Child soloists
(ages 8 to 13):
3 main child solo roles (boys or girls)
2 small child solo roles (from chorus)
Children's chorus
(ages 7 to 13):
one large chorus of c.50-60 children or
3 separate choruses of c.15-20 children each

6 percussion (children)
8 Orff instruments (SA glock, SAB metallophone, SAB xylophone, children)
piano four hands (adult) or piano four hands (adult) alone
just over an hour
full score, piano vocal, and parts available in printed version
scores and parts also available as Finale files which can be e-mailed
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Wizard Things is great fun for children to do, as the opera allows them to behave in ways that would be frowned upon in the real world. But it also has two different, if integrated, layers. Children, both those on the stage and in the audience, enjoy this aspect, and the activities of the Merlin figure. For adult audiences (and for perceptive children), there is considerable social satire built into the opera.
Wizard Things has been very successfully performed by schools. However, KidsOp would really like to see this opera done by a professional or semi-professional company (especially one in Wales) together with children to see how such a production would bring out that social satire and comedy.
Wizard Things was the second KidsOp opera by Welsh composer Mervyn Burtch and Canadian librettist Mark Morris. It was performed premiered in Cardiff, Wales, in March/April, 1998, in Wetaskiwin, Alberta and in Edmonton, Alberta, in April 1998, and in London, UK, in June 1998.

The theme of the opera is a Welsh one, and is inspired by the Welsh tradition of the wizard, of whom the most famous is undoubtedly Merlin of the Arthurian legends. But this wizard comes from the present day. A small Welsh town has a legend that a famous wizard once lived there, and they make the most of it, selling wizard souvenirs and wizard T-shirts. None of the townspeople really believe in the legend, let alone in wizards, and scoff at the idea, unless, of course, they happen to be talking to a tourist. Until...

Pontaberfanwy, a small Welsh town, has become the most progressive in Wales, as the Mayor assures us. Building on a legend that the great Wizard Merlin was born there, they have cleared the town of the coal mines and the sheep, and made sure only career couples now live there. The whole town has be geared to the exploitation of tourists..... 

Into the town comes an aging hippy-type. The mayor and the councillors see him, and tell him to leave - they don't want riff-raff like him in the market square, as he will put off the tourists. The hippie asks "Where are the children?", and he is told that they don't encourage children here, although there are a few, safely hidden out of sight, as this is a town for career couples. "And what's this about a wizard?" the hippie asks. Old wives' tales, he is told, who would believe in wizards? But very useful, oh, yes, very useful, as it brings all the tourists in. Now out, we don't want riff-raff like you here. Move on! Move on!

There is a huge and terrible sound. Flashes of lightning. Smoke. The hippie says "You don't believe in wizards then? In that case, I put a plague on this town. A Plague of Children!" Immediately lots of children come rushing onto stage. They are very demanding, wanting food, new clothes, to be entertained... The councillors are horrified, and ask the hippie to take the children away. "I can't do that," he replies. Well, at least make them nice children. You want them to be nice? Yes, please. Are you sure? Quite sure.

There is a huge and terrible sound. Flashes of lightning. Smoke. The children turn into nice children. Terribly nice children. Horribly correct and nice children. They criticize the adults, they tell them to take their hands out of their pockets, to pick up the litter, to clean their shoes, to be polite to the tourists (the audience)... Then in their niceness, they start criticizing the tourists. The councillors are even more horrified, and beg the hippie to take the children away. He won't do that. Well, at least make them a little a little nastier. Are you sure? Quite sure. Anything is better than this.

There is a huge and terrible sound. Flashes of lightning. Smoke. The children turn into horrible brats. Appalling brats. They tear up posters, are rude to the tourists, write on the walls, play terrible tricks.... The exasperated councillors beg the hippie. Please, please, take the children away. We'll do anything. You can stay as long as you like. Free. In the Merlin Motel. All meals paid for. But just take away the children! Have you learnt your lesson? he asks. We have learnt our lesson. Are you sure? Yes, quite sure, only take away the children!!!

There is a huge and terrible sound. Flashes of lightning. Smoke. The children all disappear. The councillors go back to selling souvenirs to the audience. All is peaceful again, except for hte clink of coins changing hands. All is queit. Too quiet. One of the councillors starts to miss the sounds of the children. Then another misses that little kid with the bouncy smile. Then another misses..... A couple of tourists ask where the children have got to. They liked seeing them... Gradually the councillors realise they miss the children. They go back to the hippie, who has been watching. Perhaps we were a little hasty. Perhaps a few children... No too nice, mind you. Not to nasty, either. Just children.....
The children return. The town has learnt its lesson.

Click here (Word file) or here (pdf file) to read the libretto (opens in new window)

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