New Opera “The Wild Beast of the Bungalow” Debuts at Oberlin

Wed 1/29, Fri 1/31, Sat 2/1 and Sun 2/2 @ 7:30PM

Composer Rachel J. Peters and librettist Royce Vavrek worked on their opera The Wild Beast of the Bungalow for more than a decade prior to its world premiere, which takes place this week at Oberlin College.

As Peters related on her blog hast summer, “As with most operas, it’s been an extremely long haul for this piece to see the light of day in its fullest form—it will be 12 years by opening night, in fact! … After a long hiatus away from the piece for other project commitments, this upcoming production has allowed Royce and me to come back together to give it a coherent framework and finally finish the hat, so to speak! We’re about to have a piano/vocal workshop with the students in September to see what we’ve got in its entirety. Oberlin has generously commissioned the orchestration, which I’ve already been working on for a few weeks now; it’s been a blast so far, and I never say that about orchestrating anything.”

The piece is actually three short operas in one, all centering around an 11-year-old girl who has a series of fantastic, surreal experiences as she navigates her family situation. In “Mermaid in the Jar,” she receives the titular item much to her dismay. In “Prairie Dogs,” she divorces her parents and adopts a taxidermied prairie dog family, which turns out not to be what she hoped. And in “Fine and Dandy,” quarantined in her room, she confronts facing a barbershop quartet of chicken pox and a ’60s girl group the Shingles.

“It’s a fantastic exploration of her imagination in the shadow of her parents’ dissolving marriage,” says Wild Beast director Christopher Mirto in the event press release. “It’s gritty and real, but it doesn’t take itself so seriously that there aren’t a couple of really good laughs.”

The performances take place in Warner Concert Hall and each will be followed by a talkback. They’re free but tickets should be reserved quickly. Call 800-371-0178 or email


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