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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Little Prince Makes it to the Big Stage

The Little Prince Makes it to the Big Stage
littleprinceopera.com

The Boston Lyric Opera is performing the East Coast premier of The Little Prince. The opera was originally produced with the Houston Grand Company and has since gone to the Skylight Opera Company in Milwaukee.

Rachel Portman wrote the music, with the libretto by Nicholas Wright. Portman is known mainly as a film score composer, and she has won an Oscar for her music for the movie Emma, and has also scored the movies Benny and Joon and Chocolat. The opera made its debut in Houston and is presented in collaboration with the Wang Center of the Performing Arts, as well as the Houston Grand Opera Company, and the Skylight Opera Company.

The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint Exupery, is a timeless fable about a pilot who loses his way in the African desert, and is found by a prince who has left his planet. The pilot and the prince learn about love and develop the ability to see that true beauty is essential to the heart, however, it is not always visible to the eye. They form an unusual friendship, and find in each other kindred souls.

On Tuesday, February 9 the Boston Public Library held, “Tuesday Night at the Opera,” which stages a behind the scenes look at the Boston Lyric Opera’s performance of The Little Prince. Lynn Jeffrey, of the costume department, gave the audience a backstage look at the costumes of the show and explained how the costumes were already made, but there were drastic alterations that had to be made.

On the stage there was the snake costume, one of the hunter’s costumes, and some elaborately designed hats. Jeffrey explained that for the hats a special theatrical haberdashery from New York was employed. She placed one of the hats on her head and said that most of the time the hats were big on everyday people because, “Singers are known to have notoriously large heads.”

After Lynn Jeffrey’s talk about the costumes, the Little Prince, played by Jeffrey Allison and the Pilot, Christopher Hutton, came out on the stage and sang two pieces from the opera. Stephen Steiner, the director of the Boston Lyric Opera productions, mentioned before they began that the Prince had the best opening line in all of opera, “Draw me a sheep!”

After the performance there was a question and answer session. Some reasonable questions were asked, but then a woman asked the Little Prince, Jeffrey, how he thought the character had developed for him. Being only twelve years old, and not having the quick wittedness of an adult, he squirmed and said, “Uh, I don’t know.” And then he just stood there for a few minutes and said nothing. Most of the audience felt sorry for how embarrassing that must have been.

The Pilot, Christopher Hutton, jumped in to save poor little Jeffrey. He said, “I think it’s the Prince who is the adult and everyone, including the Pilot, learns a lot about life from him.” He went on to say that he was not playing the pilot in the show and was just doing the previews, but he had learned a lot about the characters. It appeared that the woman who asked that question was a former teacher who took pleasure in embarrassing children. It simply made everybody squirm.

The opera The Little Prince is running from February 16 through the 27 at the Shubert Theater in Boston. More information can be found at www.blo.org.