Field of Dreams as an Opera Plot

All right, stay with me, because I’m going to get out there a ways with some free association. In thinking about creating a distinctly American style of opera, and in thinking about which stories American composers might make operas out of, I’ve imagined a Field of Dreams opera.  It’s a very American story, and there are some things about it that might translate will into opera: not too many characters, a male chorus of early 1900’s ballplayers, you don’t need too many sets (most of it could be staged on a baseball field/farmhouse set), a child soprano, and a good basso role in James Earl Jones’ character.  The really exciting thing, though, is that we could make a whole genre out of it.  You could make endless variations on Field of Dreams — and let me explain.

Here’s the basic story: a magical voice tells an Iowa farmer and ex-hippie liberal to build a baseball diamond in his cornfield.  The ghosts of old-time ballplayers magically appear to play there.  Then the magical voice tells the farmer to go to Boston to meet a great ’60s liberal writer.  The voice tells them both to go to Minnesota, where they go back in time to meet a former baseball player who’s acted by Burt Lancaster.  They all go back to Iowa, and the farmer’s story is resolved when he plays baseball with the ghost of his father.

So we could substitute any number of different elements into those basic categories.  You can make a mad-lib out of it: name a U.S. state, a job, a devotee of a political ideology, an athletic venue, the place where the job is worked, the word you use for players of the sport played in the venue, a far away city, a great writer or theorist of the political ideology, a second U.S. state, and an old-time actor.

Just one permutation would be: a magical voice tells an Oregon logger and monarchist to build a luge track in the mountains where his logging company is.  He cuts down trees and builds the luge track, and ghosts of former Olympic lugers appear to luge there.  Then the magical voice tells the logger to go to New Orleans to meet the exiled King of Spain, who’s in disguise.  The voice tells them both to go to West Virginia, where they travel back in time to meet a former luger who’s played by Woody Allen.  They all go back to Oregon and logger’s story is resolved when he runs the luge track with the ghost of his father.

And you make an opera out of it.  Let’s hear some more variations on the idea here in the comments section.  Have a good weekend everybody!

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2 Responses to Field of Dreams as an Opera Plot

  1. James Theodore Herman Comment by James Herman made on November 21, 2011 at 1:21 am

    Ha! I love it.

    A magical voice tells a California pet store owner and papal theocracy advocate to build a bodybuilding competition stage there in his pet store. He removes shelves and displays from one side of the store and builds the stage, and the spirits of old-time bodybuilders including Schwarzenegger and Ferigno appear to compete there. Then the magical voice tells the pet store owner to go to Las Vegas to meet the Pope. The voice tells the pet store owner and the Pope to go to Kentucky, where they travel back in time to meet a former bodybuilder who’s played by Humphry Bogart. They all go back to California and the pet store owner’s story is resolved when he competes in a bodybuilding competition with the ghost of his father.

  2. Comment by Jack Locker made on January 8, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    Do not have a variation to share just that I think this was an interesting choice. The original is timeless in relevance to the portrayal of current societal opinions and the concept in that the voice of reason eventually wins out over the voice of money or things you cannot assign a monetary value to etc. The major mono-theistic religions give it up for an external human like miracle working God, so that base is covered. Since most people cannot understand they have been enslaved by the owners of the money system, you got a lot of room to play ball.

    The idea of an ongoing Field Of Dreams storyline is brilliant and could have infinite development potential also as an musical, or even a movie geared at older teenagers who are trying to understand what’s going on around them. People would watch if the main character are cool. Famous actors would eventually jump at the chance to play a part in an episode of a well written play or script.

    To an Americans audience, the problem – resolution production form staying somewhat true to the original characters could also bring out so many aspects and answers to important issues that Americans just don’t get. Thinking American people consciously and subconsciously let the corporate mass media machine and or organized religion form their cognitive conclusions for them these days. To reach this group of people and more would be healthy for them and still allow the producers and writers almost unlimited subject matter. Have fun!

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