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The Bremen Town Musicians

An operatic version of The Town Musicians of Bremen with music by J. Offenbach, G. Rossini, G. Donizetti, A. Sullivan and G. Verdi.

Eddie Pensier, a rooster with operatic aspirations, is chased away from his farm for waking the barnyard with tenor arias. On the very same day, Barcarolle, the dog, and Dorabella, the cat, are cast out by their owner for being too old to catch rabbits and mice. The three animals run into the woods near the road to Bremen where General Boom, a retired army donkey, is marching along playing his drum. He's on his way to Bremen to begin a new band. As each of the runaways cross the General’s path, he invites them to join his band. They have plans of their own, however, and decline the invitation. The woods surrounding the Bremen Road are filled with uncertainty. Eddie, Dorabella and Barcarolle become lost and argue angrily until General Boom hears their shouting and rescues them. With rumors of robbers all about and night approaching, they accept the General’s suggestion to overlook their differences, join his band and march to Bremen. Working together as a team they overcome difficult circumstances further down the road, and as they approach their new home, the newly formed Bremen Town Musicians celebrate the idea that friendship, cooperation, and respect for others is far better than facing problems alone.

$35.00 per performance

Appropriate grade level
Pre-Kindergarten through 5th grade

40 minutes

4 singing actors and an accompanist

Characters and voice types
Eddie Pensier
A singing rooster with artistic aspirations.
General Boom
A retired Army donkey and percussionist.
Bass or Baritone
An old dog and best friend of Dorabella.
Mezzo or Soprano
An old cat and best friend of Barcarolle.
Soprano or Mezzo

A note from John
In 2010 Fort Worth Opera offered me a commission to write a children’s opera based on the Brothers Grimm folktale, The Musicians of Bremen. They sent along a booklet with the version of the story their sponsor, a book publisher, would be providing all students attending the performances. I was pleased by the challenge of a commission and grateful to have that little book. The title of the story was familiar to me, and that’s just about all I knew at the time.

The story of four farm animals brought together by fate and traveling with each other reminded me of certain Davies family favorites. I call them "Journey Stories," and some of the most popular in my home include The Wizard of Oz, The Brave Little Toaster and the Toy Story movies. Journey Stories are about characters that are usually very different from each other and motivated by distinctly personal goals. They travel together, often reluctantly, but then successfully face obstacles that no one of them would be able to overcome on their own. As the group moves from one challenge to another, a kind of collective learning curve emerges in which the travelers come to appreciate the importance of putting their differences aside and working together.

I rather doubt Will and Jake Grimm sat around the kitchen table (over strudel) deciding to write a show on "diversity and tolerance." That said, acceptance of others and the value of cooperation are themes considered crucially relevant today, especially for elementary school students. I’d like to think that young audiences will conclude, along with my drum playing donkey, opera singing rooster, cantankerous dog, and opinionated cat, that marching together as The Bremen Town Musicians is a far better choice than going it alone on the Bremen Road.




copyright 2009-2015 Opera Tales   John Davies
Operas for children, by John Davies offered through OperaTales introduce the
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