Mark Campbell wants people to issue warnings when they leave his operatic adaptation of "The Shining."
Campbell wrote the libretto for composer Paul Moravec, and their creation will be given its world premiere by the Minnesota Opera on Saturday night at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul.
"I want them to be moved by the story. I want them to be scared," Campbell said. "I would love if this were the first opera in history that engendered a response from an audience that was: 'Don't go in there!' — the way a horror film does."
Moravec and Campbell based their version on Stephen King's 1977 novel, which inspired the 1980 movie by director Stanley Kubrick starring Jack Nicholson and a 1997 TV miniseries. They both cited a quote attributed to King that termed the film "like a big, beautiful Cadillac with no engine inside it."
"What 'The Shining' is all about and the issues that Jack Torrance and his family are dealing with give rise to song," Moravec said. "The story just sings naturally."
Moravec won the 2004 Pultizer Prize for music for a chamber piece titled "Tempest Fantasy." He composed "The Letter," which premiered in 2009 at the Santa Fe Opera, and a pair of one-act works that debuted four years later at the Kentucky Opera, "The King's Man" and "Danse Russe."
His cast for "The Shining" includes baritone Brian Mulligan as Jack and soprano Kelly Kaduce as Wendy.
Mulligan compares Jack to the title character in Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd" ''just because they're both so violent and have serious mental problems."
"The hardest aspect is kind of balancing the physicality with the singing and trying to make sure that doesn't ever impede my singing," he said. "Being a raving lunatic, running around the Overlook Hotel, terrorizing my family, takes a lot of energy. It's a very physical role. I pick up my wife by the neck to dangle her body in front of me. I beat my child. I break down doors."
After premiering "The Grapes of Wrath" by Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie in 2007, the Minnesota Opera launched a new works initiative and has given debuts to "Silent Night" (2011) and "The Manchurian Candidate" (2015) by Kevin Puts and Campbell, and "Doubt" by Douglas J. Cuomo and John Patrick Shanley (2013). "Dinner at Eight" by William Bolcom and Campbell is scheduled next March.
Moravec started composing "The Shining" in January 2014 and took about a year to complete a first draft. Campbell needed only about a week for his initial libretto.
"I never would have adapted the movie," Campbell said. "There is absolutely nothing operatic about it. No character in that movie really goes on a journey. No character is really changed by the experiences that go on in the movie. Jack is altered a little bit, but he basically goes from evil to more evil."
As for Jack, Campbell sees him as a man who would have avoided tragedy had he not become caretaker for the Overlook.
"He would [have] gone to therapy, joined a support group and analyzed and got through all of the problems in his past and confronted them and then moved on," he said.
According to Moravec, the creative team has rights from King, Warner Bros. and the Kubrick estate only for the opera to be presented in St. Paul. The initial run will determine whether there will be future performances.
"I hope they have, as the British say, a rattling good time. There's a lot of wicked fun in it," Moravec said. "We hope it's successful and the word gets out. Fingers crossed."