Premiere: May 27, 2009
Location: The Zack Box at The Boston Conservatory (Boston, MA)
Adapted from the Brothers Grimm
Composed by Marti Epstein
Libretto by Marti Epstein and Greg Smucker
Directed by Greg Smucker
FROM THE COMPOSER
This story is a tragedy, a story about a hideously deformed little man who believes that, because of his physical appearance, he is unlovable. The little man, who has mysterious magic powers, really only wants one thing in life, and that is to love someone and have that loved returned unconditionally. Every day he sits in a tree and watches Gretchen and her father, the Miller, as they go about their daily routine. He longs for the kind of relationship they have with each other and decides that his only path to true love is to somehow have a child of his own. One day the King approaches Gretchen and Miller with an offer for Gretchen. A misleading boast leads the King to believe that Gretchen can spin gold out of straw. The greedy King decides to test her by locking her up in a room in his castle filled with straw and a spinning wheel. He tells her that if she does not complete the task, he will have her put to death. But, if she does complete the task, he will make her his bride. The little man sees this as an opportunity to be in a position to get the only thing he has ever wanted; he seizes the opportunity, helps Gretchen, and in exchange extracts a promise from her that she will give him her first-born child. It seems as if true and unconditional love is finally within his grasp. However, he ultimately loses his chance at love because of his kind nature. He takes pity on Gretchen and her love for her child, and allows her to try to guess his name in exchange for keeping her child. She miraculously discovers his name and therefore keeps her child; however, no one could have anticipated the incredible and terrible consequences of Gretchen speaking his name out loud. This is the true tragedy of the story.
Special thanks to Allegra Goodman, Jonathan Eichman, Roald Simonsen, Peggy Epstein, and Greg Smucker for their help with the libretto.
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