This past May, the Minnesota Opera presented the world premiere of The Shining. The opera was an immediate sensation, selling out completely and earning critical raves. In cooperation with the Minnesota Opera, Classical Minnesota Public Radio is now pleased to present the complete streaming audio of The Shining, as performed live during that premiere run. This exclusive listening opportunity will be available for a limited time only: through Nov. 30.
The listening window for this feature has now ended. We thank the Minnesota Opera for allowing us to share this audio during the month of November. Stay tuned to Classical MPR for selected broadcasts and other coverage of the Minnesota Opera.
The opera, composed by Paul Moravec with libretto by Mark Campbell, is an authorized adaptation of Stephen King's classic 1977 novel about a family haunted by ghosts at a remote mountain hotel. Many are familiar with the story through Stanley Kubrick's 1980 movie, but King was displeased with some significant changes Kubrick made to the novel's story and tone; the opera hews much more closely to King's original vision.
To guide your listening, below is a scene-by-scene guide to the complete opera. (The scene titles and summaries are my own.) Credits for the production appear at the end of this post; this recording is an edited composite of multiple performances.
Now, settle in to enjoy The Shining...and don't forget to leave a light on.
Scene 1: Outside the Overlook Hotel (0:00)
It's November 1975. Jack and Wendy Torrance arrive at the Overlook Hotel, high in the Colorado Rockies, with their young son Danny. Jack and Wendy sing about their hopes to bond as a family during the winter they'll spend at the hotel, where Jack will work as caretaker while he writes a play he's been planning.
An ebullient Jack plays vigorously with his son, making Wendy nervous.
Orchestral Interlude #1: Welcome to the Overlook (5:21)
The Overlook Hotel rises up — ominously.
Scene 2: Touring the hotel (6:34)
Mr. Ullman, the hotel manager, shows the family around — bragging about the hotel amenities (including "Denver croquet...same as croquet, but twice the size") and its storied past.
While Mr. Hallorann, the hotel's cook, shows the kitchen to Wendy and Danny, Ullman pulls Jack aside. Hinting about "a terrible tragedy" in the hotel's past, Ullman tells Jack he's concerned about Jack's history of alcoholism and an incident of schoolboy violence. "The winters here are cruel," says Ullman. "Solitude exacts a toll." Jack tells Ullman he didn't bring any alcohol, so there's nothing to worry about.
Meanwhile, Hallorann is getting friendly with young Danny. The cook calls the boy "Doc," and Wendy wonders how Hallorann knew that's a nickname she and her husband use for Danny. Hallorann shrugs. "Looks like a 'Doc,' I guess."
In the basement, summer caretaker Mr. Watson shows Jack how to use the hotel boiler — noting that the boiler needs to be emptied twice a day, or "you and your family will be blown sky-high." Jack notices that the basement also contains documents from the hotel's past, and asks Watson about the incident Ullman mentioned.
Watson mentions a few scandalous incidents. A former caretaker — Delbert Grady — went "amok" and shot his wife and two daughters before taking his own life. Mrs. Massey, a "fancy old broad," killed herself in the bathtub after a young lover abandoned her. A male senator died wearing a bra and panties.
Up on the porch, Hallorann tells Danny that he's sensed the boy's talent for precognition. Hallorann says he has it too, and so did his grandmother, who called it "the shining." He asks Danny to "think as hard as you can" and strike out with his mind. Hallorann is blown back by the force of Danny's mind, and correctly guesses that Danny has terrible nightmares. As Jack and Wendy share a romantic moment, Hallorann tells Danny that if he runs into trouble, "Holler for Hallorann. I know I'll hear you."
The hotel staff depart for the winter, Jack assuring them there's "nothing to worry about."
Orchestral Interlude #2: Room 217 (22:21)
As Danny walks through the hotel, he pauses by Room 217. Shuddering, the boy runs away. Meanwhile, Jack works on his play and Wendy happily knits.
Scene 3: Family time (23:22)
Wendy reads to Danny, then tells him it's time for bed. Watching Danny hug Jack goodnight, Wendy remembers how she never stopped loving Jack, even in "our hardest times" when Jack drank and lost his job. Jack and Wendy flirt, lovingly.
Suddenly, Wendy discovers that Danny's locked himself in the bathroom. Jack is at first impatient at the distraction from his writing, then shares Wendy's alarm and breaks the door open. Danny's parents find the boy on the bathroom floor, terrified and foaming at the mouth. Jack shakes his son roughly to snap him out of it, and Wendy pleads with Jack not to hurt Danny — "like you did before."
"How many times do I have to ask you to forgive me for breaking his arm?" asks Jack in frustration.
While Wendy puts Danny to bed, Jack has a vision of his own father, teaching young Jacky "a lesson" by beating him with a cane at bedtime. "Daddy, stop!" cries Jack, flashing back to his past. "You're hurting Mommy."
As Danny finally gets ready to drift off to sleep, he has two questions: "Daddy, you'd never hurt Mommy, would you?" Also: "What's 'redrum'?" Wendy jokes that "it sounds like a pirate drink," and the two parents leave Danny to sleep. The boy is uneasy, though, sitting up in bed as if terrified.
Scene 4: In the basement (35:45)
Minding the boiler in the basement, Jack starts looking through the historic papers. Among the past incidents he reads about is a 1966 "gangland style bloodbath" in the Overlook's Presidential Suite. He also reads about the Grady murders, and a 1973 suicide by the "society broad" Watson mentioned earlier. When Jack discovers an invitation to a 1945 grand opening ball, he flashes back to that masquerade.
"Here is the story," Jack muses, "the real story." Vowing to "screw the play" and tell the story of the Overlook's tragic history, Jack is startled by an unexplained noise. In the corner, an outsize croquet mallet gleams ominously.
Scene 5: Mother and son (44:06)
Back from a medical checkup for Danny, the boy and his mother talk about Jack. "The hotel is inside him," Danny warns his mom — who tells her son to be strong.
Jack enters, in a great mood, surprising his family with a "Boo!" Wendy relates some news about Danny's "clean bill of health," then notices the scrapbook of clippings Jack brought up from the basement. Jack tells Wendy he's putting the play aside to focus on the story of the hotel.
Wendy tells Jack she's reconsidering their stay at the hotel. Insisting that they have to stay, Jack nonetheless agrees that there's reason for concern about Danny. "If anything ever happened to the two of you," says Jack, "I could never live with myself."
After a warm kiss between the couple, Wendy goes off to make dinner.
Orchestral Interlude #3: Return to Room 217 (50:08)
Danny once again approaches Room 217. He listens at the door, then runs away. Meanwhile, Jack looks through the Overlook clippings and Wendy finishes the scarf she's been knitting.
Scene 6: A mallet in the first act... (51:10)
When the elevator makes an unexpected noise, Jack goes to investigate — snapping at Wendy when she asks him to stay with the rest of the family. "It's my goddamn job, Wendy," he says. "When will you understand that?"
Jack looks around the hotel, finding nothing out of the ordinary — until he gets to the ballroom, which seems to come alive with noise as the bar lights up, apparently full of bottles. Jack nervously swings a croquet mallet, but hits nothing as the vision ends.
Bringing the mallet back to the caretaker's quarters, Jack tells Wendy everything is fine but that he feels the need for "a little insurance." He barks at his wife again, telling her she's worried about nothing and that he needs to get back to work. Wendy goes to Danny's room to comfort the boy, as Jack, agitated, returns to his typewriter.
Orchestral Interlude #4: Inside Room 217 (56:50)
Danny returns to Room 217, this time with a key. He enters the room, where he finds a bathtub with a shower curtain. Suddenly, a naked woman with rotting flesh grabs Danny's hand and pushes back the shower curtain. As Danny struggles to break free, the lights go out.
Scene 7: Batten down the hatches (57:46)
In the hotel office, Jack turns on the CB radio to hear a warning that there's a "helluva blizzard" on its way. Jack wishes he had a drink.
Suddenly, the ranger's voice changes to the voice of Jack's father, who urges his son to kill his wife and child. Jack, shocked, destroys the radio with the mallet. Wendy enters, worried that Jack's just smashed the family's "only link to the outside world." Jack tries to explain about the "dream."
Then, both notice that their son is missing. When they open the office door, Danny is standing on the other side — soaked with water and covered with bruises. "The dead lady kissed me," says Danny, as his parents fight over which of them might have abused the boy. Wendy says the family have to leave, but Jack notes the oncoming blizzard and swears to protect his family.
A chorus of ghosts appear. A bartender is ready to offer Jack a drink, while Delbert Grady says his daughters need "correcting." Mrs. Grady is shocked to find her girls dead, and partygoers prepare to unmask. Society woman Mrs. Massey tries to woo her lover back to bed, while a crossdressing senator promises to protect children from "moral decay." In come a group of mafia hitmen — and the action freezes.
"Hallorann," calls Danny, "come quick!"
Scene 1: Jack unravels (65:14)
Jack, who looks like he's seen better days, heads down to check the boiler. He muses about letting the hotel "blow sky-high" after getting his family out of there. "They could start a new life," he says, "a new life without me — which is what they want anyway."
A tuxedoed Grady strolls in, inviting Jack to "join the party." Jack accuses Grady of a triple homicide. Grady denies any knowledge of such an act, but suggests to Jack that perhaps Danny and Wendy need to be "corrected."
Jack is initially resistant, but finally agrees that "we husbands and fathers have responsibilities" and their wives and children "must be shown the errors of their ways."
Scene 2: Discomfort food (72:26)
In the hotel kitchen, Wendy serves milk and cookies to Danny, assuring the boy that park rangers will be by to check on the family soon. Suddenly, Danny has a vision and declares (voiced by a chorus) that "the people in the hotel" have got Jack. Wendy tells her son to be brave, and goes off to the ballroom to check on Jack.
"That wind," she says as the storm gusts. "When will it ever stop?"
Scene 3: Having a ball (78:20)
Jack arrives at the ballroom, where he finds Lloyd the bartender waiting with a fully stocked bar. Ordering a couple dozen drinks, Jack carps about his "bitch of a wife" — but becomes unsettled when he's told his drinks are "on the manager" and Lloyd offers a toast to Danny.
Suddenly the ballroom comes alive with a party, complete with a man in a dog mask. Jack settles in to enjoy the festivities, as a chorus of partiers compliment him. Grady, Lloyd, Mark, and Derwent (the hotel's founder) sing a tribute to Jack — who joins in, until the ghosts disappear and Wendy walks in.
Jack grabs Wendy's leg, threatening to hurt her and saying "you never loved me," that "you turned Danny against me." He grabs his wife by the neck, and she's gasping for air when Danny comes in and yells for his dad to stop. Wendy manages to grab a bottle, bringing it down over Jack's head.
Wendy tells her son the two need to "put Daddy where the hotel can't hurt him." The boy agrees, and the two drag Jack out of the ballroom.
Scene 4: Locked up (87:00)
Jack awakens in the pantry, where Wendy and Danny have dragged him. They lock him in (Danny: "It's bedtime, Daddy"), as Jack curses them both. Wendy, assuring her son that it's the hotel talking, grabs a knife for protection.
After mother and child leave, Grady appears and scolds Jack for not having attended to "the business we discussed." After Jack swears he'll "take care of them," Grady points out that there's a safety latch allowing Jack to let himself out. Jack escapes, cackling as he grabs the croquet mallet.
Scene 5: Go fish (90:55)
Wendy and Danny are playing cards, believing they're safe from Jack. Danny is worried, and Wendy assures him "that man isn't your daddy." She leave to make dinner as Danny calls after her.
Scene 6: Battle in the ballroom (92:38)
Wendy enters the ballroom and is taunted by the Grady girls, the crossdressing senator, and...Jack! "Thought you could outsmart me," says Jack as he chases his wife with the mallet.
"Forgive me," says Wendy as she stabs her husband with the knife. A ghost appears, saying what a terrific party they're all having. Wendy runs out as her husband, the knife still in his back, chases after her.
Scene 7: An outside party (94:40)
Wendy runs into the caretaker's quarters and locks the door behind her. Jack smashes at the door with the mallet, as Wendy slashes at him with razors. Grady and Derwent tell Jack to go after the boy first, since Danny has summoned "an outside party." A snowcat is heard outside, and Wendy assumes it's the rangers. Calling for her son, she falls to her knees.
Scene 8: Hallorann is here (96:06)
Hallorann enters the ballroom, calling for Wendy and Danny. The boy shouts a warning to Hallorann, but Jack beats the cook down with a mallet and takes chase after Danny.
"You are not my father," insists Danny as Jack hesitates. Though Jack continues to threaten the boy, Danny reminds his father of their love. Ultimately, Jack tells Danny to run away.
As Danny flees, the ghosts tell Jack just how disappointed they are in him. They remind him that he's forgotten to empty the boiler, and he runs off. As a chorus starts a countdown, the ghosts seem optimistic that carnage may yet ensue: "There may be hope for you after all."
Scene 9: Run! (100:10)
Wendy and Danny return to the ballroom, and Hallorann — recovering from the blow Jack struck — says they all have to leave immediately. "The boiler!" cries Danny.
Scene 10: Let's blow this thing (100:30)
Steam fills the basement as pressure builds. Jack stands before the boiler, refusing to take action as the ghosts warn his family is getting away and urge him to stop the explosion. "I'm afraid it's too late, gentlemen," says Jack, who tells his family he loves them as the hotel goes up in flames.
Scene 11: Epilogue (102:57)
It's nine months later. Danny fishes in a pond, as Wendy sits on the porch of a cabin reading a book. Hallorann enters, there to check up on the pair. "Ain't like the Overlook," he observes, "but it's cool being the cook here, and Maine suits me fine." Wendy says that Danny is still having bad dreams, but Hallorann assures her the boy is going to be okay.
Hallorann goes to sit with Danny, who admits he misses his father. "Sometimes I wish it had been me and not him," he says to Hallorann. The cook tells Danny to be strong for his mother.
When a fish tugs on the line, Danny repeats his call for Hallorann to come quick. "You're doing just fine by yourself," says the cook. "Just fine."
Composer: Paul Moravec
Libretto: Mark Campbell
Conductor: Michael Christie
Stage director: Eric Simonson
Choreographer: Heidi Spesard-Noble
Scenery and properties design: Erhard Rom
Animation and projection design: 59 Productions
Costume design: Kärin Kopischke
Lighting design: Robert Wierzel
Sound design: C. Andrew Mayer
Jack Torrance: Brian Mulligan
Wendy Torrance: Kelly Kaduce
Danny Torrance: Alejandro Vega
Dick Hallorann: Arthur Woodley
Mark Torrance: Mark Walters
Delbert Grady: David Walton
Horace Derwent: Alex Ritchie
Lloyd: John Robert Lindsey
Stuart Ullman: Robb Asklof
Bill Watson: Rick Penning
Mrs. Massey: Shannon Prickett
Mrs. Grady: Jeni Houser
Recording engineer: Zack Rose for Minnesota Public Radio
Recording editor: Kate Saumur for Minnesota Public Radio
Photography: Ken Howard for the Minnesota Opera