"Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!"
These are words that a probably quite familiar to you. Rapunzel is a very famous tale popularized and published by The Brothers Grimm, and many of us know the story of the beautiful princess with the miraculously long hair who is trapped in a tower by her wicked adopted mother. This tale is the subject of Dylan Langan's newest opera for children, following the success of Little Red Riding Hood, which was premiered by Vera Causa Opera in 2018.
As the story goes, an expecting mother is extremely hungry, and insists that only the rampion herb (otherwise known as "rapunzel") will vanquish her cravings. Her husband breaks into the garden next door to steal some of the plant for her, but is caught in the act by a wicked witch who owns the garden. She demands that as punishment for his transgressions, he must surrender to her the baby that his wife is carrying. Reluctantly, he agrees, and when the parents bear a beautiful baby girl, they hand her over to the witch, who raises her in a solitary tower with no stairs or doors. The only way to access is the tower is by calling out to the girl, named Rapunzel after the plant her father stole, who lets down her extremely long hair for the witch to climb. One day, a charming prince overhears the witch calling to Rapunzel, and when she emerges at the window to let down her hair, he is instantly enchanted by Rapunzel. Later, when the witch is nowhere to be seen, the prince calls out to Rapunzel and he climbs up her hair to enter the tower, and the two fall in love very quickly. The witch finds out about the prince's visits, and casts him from the tower, where he falls into a thorny briar and becomes blind. The witch cuts Rapunzel's beautiful hair and banishes her to a desolate wilderness.The prince, wandering blindly, hears Rapunzel's voice and the two are reunited. Two of Rapunzel's magical tears fall onto the prince's eyes and his sight is restored. The blissful couple lives happily ever after!
Now, Brothers Grimm fairytales can be rather, well, grim. For example, in the original story, Rapunzel gives birth to twins while stranded in the wilderness. In the opera, we have left out some of the more troubling parts of the story to make it as family-friendly as it can possibly be. After all, many fairytales were originally intended to scare children into good behaviour. Our goal at VCO is instead to encourage kindness, wisdom, and bravery in scary situations. This is why we have created a Rapunzel who is not just beautiful, but is also intelligent, strong, and gentle-hearted. She insists that she and The Prince get to know each other before jumping headfirst into a relationship, and throughout the opera she learns that it is what is inside of you that counts.
Don't miss this charming opera for the whole family, presented as a double-bill with The Dino Opera, also by VCO General Director Dylan Langan. The two operas are coming to Waterloo, Cambridge, and Guelph this February!