You are here

Children's opera: "Riddle Me"

Sunday, March 6, 2011 - 8:00am
Music Center Recital Hall (UCSC)
Presented by: 
Music Dept

Matinee performances of the premiere of a new opera for young audiences. Riddle Me is based loosely on the story of Rumpelstiltskin.

In the original tale, a father boasts that his daughter can spin straw into gold, and the king forces her to do so or be killed. A sly and evil-seeming dwarf comes to her rescue and performs the task, and the young girl is rewarded by becoming the wife of the king. But then it’s payback time: she must either guess the dwarf’s name or give up her firstborn child. 

Charming as this story is, it does promote some harmful stereotypes as well as greed and false values. So librettist Claudia Stevens has retold the story for today’s young audiences. The boastful father is recast as a competitive mother who seeks to enlarge herself through her daughter’s accomplishments. The king becomes the villain of the story—a bully, brutal, false and greedy. In the end he will be rejected not only by the heroine Rowena but also by his own subjects as an unworthy ruler. Above all Stevens has recast the dwarf—called “Riddle” in the opera—not as wicked but as a mysterious, magical, not-quite-human creature from ancient times. Riddle is the last of her kind, and she has come to remind Rowena—and us—of the meaning of friendship, acceptance of difference, self-sacrifice and loyalty.


Two performances: 11:00 AM and 1:00 pm


Allen Shearer, composer

Claudia Stevens, libretto

Brian Staufenbiel, director

Nathaniel Berman, conductor


FREE admission. All ages welcome. 

Doors open 30 minutes before curtain. Seating is first-come, first-served.

Parking $3