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Ingenious Poul Ruders score for 'The Thirteenth Child' blends gothic foreboding with music-hall brio / beyondcriticism

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The Forest

Food Song

A Riddle

Another new piece of music theater, presented on our show the morning after the world premiere at the Santa Fe Opera. Based on "The Twelve Brothers," a lesser-known tale from the Brothers Grimm. A king threatens his queen with the death of their twelve sons unless the thirteenth child, still in the womb, turns out to be a girl. The queen arranges for the boys' safety-unnecessarily, as it turns out, since the thirteenth child is, indeed a daughter. All turns out for the best in the end, though not for the parents and not without extra tribulations for the siblings after the princess innocently cuts the stalks of her brother's mysterious twelve lilies. What was she thinking? The ingenious score blends Gothic foreboding with music-hall brio. A delightful addition to the repertoire, likely to be taken up widely. That said, at 70 minutes, The Thirteenth Child passes a little swiftly for a full evening of opera. How about a double will with Stravinsky's Nightingale or Orff's Der Mond?

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