Jack Nicholson in Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film version of "The Shining."
As Stephen King’s sequel to “The Shining” is hitting bookshelves, Mark Campbell is busy condensing the original. The librettist is writing the book for the Minnesota Opera’s version of “The Shining,” which will premiere in May 2015.
Campbell, who just finished adapting “The Manchurian Candidate” for the Minnesota Opera and also wrote the book for its 2012 production of “Silent Night,” has experience with transforming modern texts that don’t seem to naturally lend themselves to becoming stage spectaculars. He and composer Paul Moravec are trying to remain as true as possible to King’s horror novel about a hotel caretaker battling ghosts and his own demons, putting his wife and son in peril.
“It’s very much a story about a family trying to survive impossible odds,” said Campbell, who has received King’s approval on his completed outline. “People who haven’t read the book don’t know that Jack Torrance was abused by his own father.”
Campbell said he’s holding off on violence until the second act, but that the first “is spooky, with an ending people will be talking about. There will be a big technical feat and a lot of ghosts.”
For the music, Moravec, who won a Pulitzer in 2004, said he wants to avoid what he called the melodramatic “horror pastiche” typical of films in the genre.
“The novel is actually more operatic than the movie was because it addresses fundamental, primal emotions, which is also what serious opera does,” he said. “This is a story about love, death and power. And by power, I mean what a character will do to get what he wants.”
While “The Shining” is classified as horror, Moravec sees it as “a beautiful story, very moving. Things about it that might not work in a straight play are perfect for opera.”