Eloise

Tango-Septet*

Violin I, II
Viola
Violoncello
Accordion
Piano
Percussion (one player): Xylophone, Glockenspiel, 2 Congas, Metal Wind chimes, Triangle, Tambourine, Claves, Castanets, Vibra Slap, Maracas, Crash Cymbal & Ride Cymbal with Sizzle Chain, Afuche, Rainmaker, Shekere, Cowbell, Cajon or other big loud wooden box
* The string parts can also be taken by multiple players.

Photos from the Premiere at the Staatsoper Hamburg (February 3, 2013) Copyright: Brinkhoff / Mögenburg
Stage Director: Kerstin Steeb
Set Design: Franziska Riedmiller
Costumes: Kirsten Fischer

Opera in one act by Karl Jenkins
New Orchestration for the Staatsoper Hamburg by Benjamin Gordon

Faced with space constraints for the orchestra in the theater, the Hamburger Staatsoper asked me to create a new orchestration for the 2013 opera piccola production of Karl Jenkins’ fabulous children’s opera Eloise. It’s no wonder the opera is so popular: Jenkins writes long melodies that you just don’t want to go away. Playing through the score one continually delights at the clever chord progressions awaiting on every page. The music for the vampires was given special treatment to make it more menacing. Special due was given to the opera’s villain – the uncompassionate Volhek – to make his music more threatening, proportionate to his evil deeds.

Passion, regret, and a bit of violence… one instrument portrays these emotions like no other: the accordion! Jenkins had already employed a Habanera for one number; upon closer inspection there was a trove of latent Tango, waiting to be unearthed. Inspired by Gidon Kremer’s interpretations of Astor Piazzola’s work, a Tango-Septet was employed for the new orchestration: string quartet, accordion, piano and lots of latin percussion. Some numbers were slightly transposed for the benefit of the singers, and two “fight scenes” were added to heighten the conflict. Now and then there is also a nod to Yann Thiersen (Amélie), whose music conveys an unmistakable naïveté in the best sense of the word. Lastly several transitions were lengthened to allow for longer choreography.