23 May Elijah’s Kite
Librettist: Camyar Chai
Commissioner: Tapestry New Opera (Artistic Director Wayne Strongman) and the Manhattan School of Music Opera School (Gordon Ostrovsky, director), with the assistance of The Canada Council for the Arts
Premiere: 6 April 2005, Manhattan School of Music, New York, NY
Other productions: Tapestry: school tour, New York, April 2005; school tour, Toronto, spring 2006; Rideau Hall, Ottawa, April 2006; school tour, Sault Ste. Marie and region, spring 2006. Pacific Opera Victoria: school tour, Victoria and Vancouver Island, 2007.
Performers: 5 voices (2 sopranos, mezzo, tenor, baritone) with an optional part for children’s chorus, and 3 instruments (percussion, electric bass, and keyboard)
Duration: 33 minutes (5 scenes)
At lunchtime, Miriam, the new kid at school, is taken in hand by friendly Keisha. They meet Elijah, a loner who eats sushi for lunch. He clutches his kite, which he dreams will fly one day, and carry him away from school. Keisha scoffs, but Miriam believes him. The school bully, Big Billy Brett, with his sidekick Nikki, mocks Elijah. He abuses Elijah’s kite and steals his lunch. When Billy finds out what sushi is, he is revolted, and delivers an enormous burp. Miriam isn’t impressed and lets Billy know it. They trade insults and Miriam easily trumps him. When an enraged Billy attacks her, she fells him with a neat martial arts move. Billy retreats, issuing threats, and Miriam is suddenly a school hero.
Now Miriam is hanging out with Nikki. They sing about how cool girls love to go shopping. But when Miriam speaks to Keisha and Elijah, Nikki scolds her. Elijah accuses Miriam of selling out her friends, which provokes Miriam to wreck Elijah’s kite. Now Miriam is shunned by all the kids for going too far. But Keisha is able to reassemble the kite, making it better than ever. Elijah approaches Miriam to make peace with her; when he sees his new kite, he is in awe. Suddenly, Big Billy enters, bent on revenge, but he stops short when he sees the new kite. They all work together to launch Elijah and his kite, including Billy, whose enormous burp provides the necessary lift-off power. They celebrate together as the lunch bell rings.