The concerts of LEITHIAN
are over. But through the Magic of Wires you can still read about the Part One concert on this page, about the Part Two concert here, and listen to both concerts in sound clip format.

Further down this page you can read the web review and press release for the Part One concert.
Working on the concerts I came upon the following quote:
"I would draw some of the great tales in fullness, and leave many only placed in the scheme, and sketched. The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama..."
-J.R.R. Tolkien, from a letter written to Milton Waldman, ca. 1951 -    (from the Tolkien Music List)

Words, music, and drama: add them up and what do you get? OPERA. Mine, for instance. The publishers have not renewed permission to use the story to do more concerts. Perhaps a write-in campaign from irate fans would move them...

Want to hear some of it?
Want to read the Part One program? (pdf format)
Want to read the Part Two program? (pdf format)

Want to see a Part One cast photo?
Want to see a Part Two cast photo?

LOTR Opera Review
Xoanon @ 9:05 pm EST

Lesley writes:
On July 1st, I attended what is, I suspect, a mostly unknown and unheralded opera called Leithian, the tale of Beren and Lúthien. It was held at the Liederkranz Hall, a small venue near Central Park on E. 87th in New York City. The composer and Metropolitan Opera singer, Adam Klein, also performed the lead role of Beren. Approximately 20 musicians and singers contributed, some singers trading off to play instruments from time to time.

Only the first half of the opera was presented -- the author's website informs us the complete work is over four hours long, and only certain excerpts of it have ever been performed live.

The evening began with a prologue entitled The Music of the Ainur, from the first chapter of the Silmarillion, featuring narration and an interesting blend of avant-garde piano, organ and the voices of the choir -- Melkor's strident disruptions clearly portrayed. But the real surprise came when Klein began his first solo as Beren wandering in the forest. With rich and ringing vocals, he brought everyone to absolute attention. Other highlights were performances by David Gagnon as Finrod and C. David Morrow as Sauron. Tami Swartz, Klein's fiancée in real life, was a compelling Lúthien in her blue mantle, with long brown hair, a clear voice and a pure gaze, while Klein, with even longer hair, stalked the stage in a tunic and knee-high moccasins.
The story lends itself to opera perfectly -- the guy of lesser origins wants the high-born girl, her parents hate him, they send him on an impossible quest to get rid of him, and then problem after problem ensues, with arias or duets sung at each turn. The first half ended as Lúthien rescues Beren from Sauron's tower and she and Beren are reunited.

The small audience was enthusiastic, and the whole event had a cozy family feel to it. We found out Klein's parents had sold us our tickets, when he announced, "As soon as my parents are seated, we'll begin," and they took their places in the front row. But as informal as the occasion felt, the music was flawlessly performed -- the care and professionalism from everyone was evident.

I would like to see the second half someday, and there is a chance, as Klein called out, "Part 2 next year!" as the applause subsided.


World Premiere of the opera LEITHIAN, Part I,
to be given July 1, 2006 in New York

J. R. R. Tolkien Tale Is Set by American Composer

The world premiere of Part I of the opera LEITHIAN, by Adam Klein, will be presented July 1, 2006, 7 PM at Liederkranz Hall, 6 East 87th Street, New York City.

LEITHIAN, or Release from Bondage, takes place in the Elder Days, the First Age of Middle-Earth, when Sauron was but a captain of an even greater evil being, Morgoth the Black Enemy. (THE LORD OF THE RINGS occurs at the end of the Third Age.) It is the tale of Beren and Lúthien, ancestors of Aragorn, Arwen and Elrond, and tells how they achieved what the entire Elvish army could not: rescue one of the three Silmarils from Morgoth's Crown. It is also the story of the first union between Elf and Man (the last being Arwen and Aragorn).

It was one of the first tales of Middle-Earth that Tolkien wrote, begun in 1914, but was published after THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS, posthumously, as part of THE SILMARILLION by his son Christopher. In one of the LETTERS OF J.R.R. TOLKIEN, published in 1981, Tolkien expressed a long-standing hope to inspire composers with his stories. Adam Klein heeded the call and began his opera LEITHIAN in 1982. It took ten years to complete. Unlike most theatrical adaptations, no major feature of the story was altered, and no characters were conflated or omitted. Mr. Klein wrote about half the libretto himself, the sources left by Tolkien being insufficient to draw from.

The work is long -- approximately four and one half hours of music before counting intermissions -- and so for this premiere it was decided to present Part One, which ends with Beren being rescued by Lúthien from the dungeons of Sauron. Also, since a piano cannot always replace a very contrapuntal and multitimbral expanded orchestra, several of the singers will double on instruments when they're not singing. Likewise, in places where the music supports mute stage action, the Narrator's part has been expanded for clarity.

This will be the first time complete scenes from this opera have been performed. Only thrice has any of it been heard in public: Two arias and a duet were excerpted as part of a concert of opera selections in Del Norte, Colorado in 2005; Beren's Aria from Scene 9 was performed at a concert in Memphis in 1998 with composer Michael Ching at the piano; and Mr. Klein used Beren's aria from Scene 2 as one of the pieces in his successful bid to win the Center for Contemporary Opera International Vocal Competition in 1990, repeating it in his Winner's Concert at Weill Recital Hall in 1991 (a program entitled Written in America, featuring arias and songs written in the United States with Howard Klein at the piano).

Mr. Klein studied composition with John Lessard and Donald Erb. He has also written GOLDIE LOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS, a children's opera about tolerance, and many songs and tunes in the traditional or acoustic vein. He is a member of ASCAP.

This concert performance will feature Tami Swartz, soprano; Adam Klein, tenor(Metropolitan Opera); C. David Morrow, baritone; David Gagnon, tenor; David Adam Moore, baritone (Seattle Opera); Keith Harris, baritone; Dianna Dollman, mezzo-soprano (New York Gilbert And Sullivan Players); Walter Du Melle, bass; George Kasarjian, countertenor; and Elizabeth Hastings, music director and pianist.

LEITHIAN is based on THE SILMARILLION by J. R. R. Tolkien, „1977 George Allen & Unwin (Publishers) Ltd., and was used by permission.