THE JUNGLE BOOK (KAMALA SANKARAM) in progress
The Glimmerglass Festival, 2020
When Mowgli seeks refuge among the wolves, the pack must decide whether they will provide shelter to the “human cub.” This youth opera, commissioned by The Glimmerglass Festival, will draw on both European and Indian classical music traditions, not only to create a sense of place within the opera, but also to offer young performers a greater sense of the world and the commonalities shared between cultures
LUCY (JOHN GLOVER)
American Opera Projects (workshop, 2010) | Nautilus Music-Theatre (workshop, 2010) | Milwaukee Opera Theatre (premiere, 2014) | Urban Arias (2017) | New Focus Records (2017)
A chamber opera inspired by the true story of a psychotherapist who raised a chimpanzee daughter. "It’s a resonant story, with a (not surprisingly) tragic end, and Lucy...tells it beautifully in ways that keep the big questions—and poignant emotions—front and center" (MilwaukeeMag). "Lucy the chimpanzee's life makes for compelling art" (Washington Post). "That such an unusual story should end up being so moving is a compliment to everyone involved" (Textura).
NATURAL SYSTEMS (JOHN GLOVER)
New York Youth Symphony at Carnegie Hall (2013 | San Francisco Conservatory's BluePrint Series (chamber version, 2014)
A dramatic song cycle inspired by the life and work of Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist. “Mr. Glover’s vivid score ranges from energetic swirls to a gentle, enigmatic conclusion as the protagonist muses about his boyhood: 'And so I learned to hold names in my head, long after the flower had collapsed in my sweaty grasp'” (New York Times).
The Glimmerglass Festival (2015, 2018) | The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Young People’s Chorus of New York City (2017) | Minnesota Opera (2018) | Coral Reef Cuda Chorus (2018) | Seattle Opera (2019) | Walnut Hill School for the Arts (2019) | Opera Santa Barbara (2019)
A youth opera based on Homer’s epic. “… with an ebullient, lyrical score by Ben Moore and a witty, tightly-rhymed libretto by Kelley Rourke, [Odyssey] is more than just an opera for young audiences. In fact, it’s an opera for all ages…Rourke’s winking libretto includes plenty of clever rhymes and wordplay and manages to be hip without trying too hard” (Opera News).
The Glimmerglass Festival (2017) | Seattle Opera in collaboration with Seattle Public Theatre (2018) | Houston Grand Opera (2018) | Kentucky Opera (2020)
When the law of the land is corrupt, what’s an honest citizen to do? In the absence of the King, the Sheriff has seized the country’s assets for himself and his cronies. Robin Hood is the unlikely leader of a band of ordinary folks doing their best to survive in the forest until just rule returns to the land.
STAY (JOHN GLOVER) in progress
On Site Opera, 2020
In this immersive opera, a series of half-remembered stories draws a group of strangers to an abandoned house, where the stories soon take on a life of their own.
WILDE TALES (LAURA KARPMAN)
The Glimmerglass Festival (2016) | Seattle Opera (2020)
"'Wilde Tales,' by composer Laura Karpman and librettist Kelley Rourke, a charming mashup of Oscar Wilde’s stories 'The Happy Prince' and 'The Remarkable Rocket,' was sophisticated yet tailored to the talents of its performers." (Wall Street Journal)
ARIADNE IN NAXOS (RICHARD STRAUSS)
The Glimmerglass Festival (2014) | Festival Opera (2015) | Austin Opera (2018) | Cincinnati Opera (2019)
A bilingual adaptation for a production by Francesca Zambello, set in modern-day upstate New York. "Kelley Rourke’s contemporary English translation for the Prologue and comic scenes, with references to things such as production standards on the Jersey Shore, adds to the high spirits." (Financial Times) “Thanks to a witty and idiomatic English translation and adaptation by Kelley Rourke, the dialogue is wonderfully funny and accessible.” (Cincinnati CityBeat)
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (2015) | Welsh National Opera (2016)
"A new English translation by Kelly Rourke, combined with some inspired stage direction by Michael Shell and the spirited conducting of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra by Ryan McAdams, makes this Barber a fresh, razor-sharp interpretation...Rourke’s new translation was commissioned by OTSL for its 40th anniversary, and the result is smart, savvy, silly and successful." (Ladue News) “I’ve genuinely never heard an audience laughing so much in an opera buffa. Kelley Rourke’s brisk and irreverent new English translation had a lot to do with that." (Birmingham Mail)
CINDERELLA (GIOACHINO ROSSINI)
The Atlanta Opera (2017)
A modern, hour-long adaptation of Rossini's beloved La Cenerentola, adapted for six soloists and no chorus.
COSÌ? (WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART)
The Glimmerglass Festival (2020)
A contemporary take on Mozart and Da Ponte’s opera, Così? will examine and expose all manner of gender stereotypes. This 75-minute English adaptation will include highlights from the original opera, set into a new book that upends the classic - and controversial - battle of the sexes.
THE CUNNING LITTLE VIXEN (LEOS JANÁČEK)
The Glimmerglass Festival (2018) | Boston University (2019)
A new production by Loren Meeker for The Glimmerglass Festival. "The opera was sung in a new English translation by Kelly Rourke. Her work was just as fluent and economical as the music." (Albany Times Union)
THE ELIXIR OF LOVE (GAETANO DONIZETTI)
English National Opera (2010, 2011) | Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (2014) | Scottish Opera (2016)
A free adaptation for Sir Jonathan Miller's production, set in the American midwest in the 1950s. "What really counts is that The Elixir of Love is charming and funny - and Miller's self-evident affection for the territory and the period (I know, he's been there before) ensures that it is. Much of the credit...should go to Kelley Rourke's crackingly witty translation. For sure, it takes as many liberties as it fires off rhyming couplets but it does so with irresistible silliness." (The Independent) “We hardly miss Donizetti’s Italian, because Kelley Rourke’s Americanised translation of The Elixir of Love communicates vividly without mashing the music.” (Financial Times)
THE GIRL OF THE GOLDEN WEST (GIACOMO PUCCINI)
English National Opera (2014) | Apotheosis Opera (NYC, 2016)
"How brilliantly, too, Kelley Rourke’s English translation brings the Wild West to life. It is almost like having John Wayne and Gary Cooper on stage." (Financial Times)
Milwaukee Opera Theatre (2013) | The Glimmerglass Festival (2013) | Mill City Opera (2014) | New York City's Rockwood Music Hall (2015)
New English lyrics for songs by Schumann, Schubert, Strauss and other dead composers, performed alongside and in combination with songs by Kate Bush, Pat Benatar, Gnarls Barkley and more. Arrangements by John Glover and Andrew Wilkowske.
KING FOR A DAY (GIUSEPPE VERDI)
The Glimmerglass Festival (2013)
An early, neglected comedy by Verdi in a colorful production by Christian Rath. "Prudently trimmed, the work emerges as a Rossinian lark with a handful of limpid arias that aspire to Donizetti. Ms. Rourke’s clever, quirky libretto, easy to follow and hard to resist, tidies up some of the original opera’s messy bits." (The New York Times)
THE SECRET GARDENER (WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART)
On Site Opera at West Side Community Garden, NYC (2017) and Caramoor (2018) | The Atlanta Opera at Atlanta Botanical Gardens (2017)
"Rourke’s version is a total romp — pure springtime entertainment" (ArtsATL). "Kelley Rourke’s clever English translation...boiled the work down to its essence" (Wall Street Journal).
THE MAGIC FLUTE (4) (WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART)
The Glimmerglass Festival (2015) | Southern Methodist University (2016)
A journey of discovery in a woodland setting. "All this well-meaning thematization could have been deadly in lesser hands, further weighing down Mozart’s magical score, already burdened with philosophical notions stemming from Freemasonry. Instead, it was itself magical. With the goals of the spiritual trials now being self-discovery, self-possession and self-sufficiency, most of the pseudo-religious mystical baggage simply fell away...This is Ms. Rourke’s fourth English translation of “The Magic Flute,” and while I can’t speak for the others, it is a winner: colloquial and entertaining in spoken passages, and remarkably well wedded to the music and versification in arias." (The New York Times)
THE MAGIC FLUTE (3) (WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART)
Washington National Opera (2014)
A contemporary rewrite for a production dominated by the abstract, fanciful designs of Jun Kaneko. "They were aided by an English translation of the libretto by the company’s dramaturge, Kelley Rourke, that often had the audience laughing at actual jokes rather than the hoary gag lines so common in opera 'updatings.'" (The Washington Post)
THE MAGIC FLUTE (2) (WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART)
Boston Lyric Opera (2013)
A classic initiation story that plays out against the backdrop of Mayan, rather than Masonic cosmology, in a production conceived by Leon Major and John Conklin. "Mozart’s opera sounds incredibly fresh in this ingenious reimagining, delivering its potent mix of jovial humor and nuggets of wisdom with a renewed vitality, and a surprising up-to-date relevance." (MIT's The Tech)
PAGLIACCI (RUGGERO LEONCAVALLO)
The In Series, Washington, DC (2010)
An English & Italian version of the opera by Ruggero Leoncavallo, set in modern-day Little Italy.
THE QUEEN OF SPADES (PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY)
The Glimmerglass Festival (2019)
A compact version of Tchaikovsky's thriller, based on the novel by Pushkin. Directed by Francesca Zambello. “Kelley Rourke has effectively condensed Pushkin’s story by taking the most indispensible musical highlights in the tuneful score, shedding the chorus and extraneous plot twists, and distilling the whole into 70 cogent minutes of considerable pleasure. Ms. Rourke has also crafted a quite poetic, very singable translation of utmost clarity.” (Opera Today)