Marsh King's Daughter
Introduction to the show
by Bernard J Taylor
This has been a real labour of love. As regular viewers of my Youtube channel
will know (http://www.youtube.com/user/OldGrumpyGuy)
, I regard Mozart as the greatest composer ever. But while I love a lot of his
operatic music, I have never been a great fan of his operas. In fact I have
never been a great fan of opera in general whether by Mozart or not, even though
many operatic pieces rank among my top favorites.
Half of the reason is that they are usually based on obscure stories and are
sung in languages I don't understand. For example, take Mozart's most popular
opera, the Magic Flute. It's based on an obscure story rooted in 18th century
German Masonic mythology. I don't know about you, but I find it difficult to
relate to 18th century German Masonic mythology. Particularly if I don't
understand the language.
The other half of the reason is that operas in general tend to have one or two
good numbers while the rest of the music is not all that inspiring. Particularly
recitative. I have always hated recitative - where they sing dialogue in a very
mannered and, to me, rather boring way.
I have long thought how wonderful it would be to have an opera packed with some
of Mozart's most beautiful and memorable pieces, and I decided some years ago to
create one myself. I was just waiting for the right story to put his music to. I
wanted it to be based on a fairy tale, though not one of the more overdone ones
like Cinderella or Snow White. I wanted it to reach as wide an audience as
possible, and hopefully introduce more people to the wonderful music of Mozart.
On first reading, Hans Christian Andersen's story about the Marsh King's
daughter did not inspire me. The story didn't hang together very well and there
were great gaps in the narrative that left a lot of things unexplained. But I
found that my imagination began to fill in the gaps and expand on the story in a
way that really excited me, and I became consumed by a fever of creativity as I
found myself totally absorbed by the project. I almost didn't have to think
about it. Everything just seem to come together almost effortlessly, as if I had
Mozart and Hans Christian Andersen looking over my shoulder and dictating the
Some might mutter aloofly about my audacity in daring to tamper with Mozart's
music. But somehow I am convinced that Mozart himself would not feel that way. I
am sure he would welcome any efforts to broaden the appeal of his music.
I have to confess that I have
taken some liberties with his music. For example, there is of course a
wedding scene in the show. I could have chosen Mozart's Ave Verum
chorus for this, but as beautiful as it is it did not really sit comfortably
within the story. So I ransacked
Mozart' repertoire (as I did for every song) before choosing part of the
mid-section of his concerto for flute and harp and reshaping it until I was
But overall I know I have stayed true to the spirit of his music and to the
great composer himself. In the process I have made the music more accessible to
singers who have not been operatically trained and who are more used to singing
in modern musicals.