As the youth ensemble rehearses for the world premiere of this season’s youth opera The Jungle Book, librettist Kelley Rourke hosted a morning of crafts and storytelling for local children at the Cooperstown Library. 

Originally set to premiere in 2020, this new opera with music by Glimmerglass Composer in Residence Kamala Sankaram and Glimmerglass Dramaturg Kelley Rourke finally takes the stage in the Festival’s 2022 season. Sankaram and Rourke’s new opera follows the popular story of Mowgli, a human cub who seeks refuge from the dangers of the jungle with a pack of wolves. 

Rourke joined the library for their story time series to read the Glimmerglass version of The Jungle Book. This children’s book was commissioned by Glimmerglass after the delay of the premiere due to the pandemic and was originally presented virtually featuring  illustrations by Tharanga Goonetilleke and narrations paired with musical excerpts. The printed version is available in the Glimmerglass Gift shop and the virtual presentation can be viewed here

The crafts consisted of jungle-themed coloring pages and DIY wolf ears (seen in the photos below). A downloadable layout made by costume designer Erik Teague is available for all people to try at home. This event was done to spread the word about the opera’s upcoming premiere and shed light on the origins of The Jungle Book. Set in India, the opera features Northern and Southern Indian music traditions. 

When Kelley read the story, she taught them a simple refrain from the opera: “Our strength is what we share; the power of the pack.” She also taught them some Konnakol, percussion syllables made vocally from South Indian music. In the opera, the youth ensemble uses the Konnakol whenever the character of Shere Khan appears. 

“So as we read the book, we did a call and response; the kids would sing along or offer some strong vocal percussion,” Kelley said. 

The youth opera program at the Glimmerglass Festival has always worked toward inspiring creativity in young people and the children had the opportunity to experience a little Jungle Book magic. Experience the magic yourself this summer and join us for The Jungle Book, running August 4-8. 

Thanks to the Youth Opera Ticket Initiative sponsored by Betsy and Ed Cohen, youth 12 and younger can attend for free when accompanied by an adult. For tickets, click here

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