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The Billy Goats Gruff

An operatic version of the story of The Billy Goats Gruff based on scenes from operas by W. A. Mozart, G. Donizetti and G. Rossini.

An after-school game of hide and seek is ruined for three billy goat friends when a big bully blocks a bridge, preventing them from being able to go home. Remembering what their moms, dads and teachers have told them about dealing with bullies, two boy billy goats resolve to go home a different, longer way and share their difficulties with grownups. The littlest girl goat, however, not wanting to abandon the beloved doll that’s been snatched from her, tromps to the crest of the bridge and, confronting the bully, prevails by inadvertently pushing him into the creek below. Concerned for his well-being, she shows her would-be adversary kindness by asking if he’s OK. He responds by asking if she’s OK. By the time the two boys return with help, she’s able to introduce a soggy, forlorn ex-bully as their new friend.

Listen to 3 excerpts from The Billy Goats Gruff

1. Osmin Song
I don’t have to do what grownups tell me to.
from W. A. Mozart’s Die Zauberflote, "Alles fuhltder Leibe Freuden"
mp3   listen mp3
2. Quartet
You billy goats get out of my sight.
from W. A. Mozart’s Die Entfuehrung Aus Dem Serail, "Verwunscht seist du sammt"
mp3   listen mp3
3. Quartet
You must be kind to each and everyone...
from W. A. Mozart’s: Die Entfuehrung Aus Dem Serail, "Nie werd’ ich deine Huld verkenne"
mp3   listen mp3

$35.00 per performance

Appropriate grade level
Pre-Kindergarten through 5th grade

40 minutes

4 singing actors and an accompanist

Characters and voice types
Lucy   A young girl billy goat
Best friend of Ernesto and Dandini
(Girl billy goats are allowable in opera.)
  Soprano or Mezzo
Ernesto   A young boy billy goat
Best friend of Lucy and Dandini
  Mezzo or Tenor
Dandini   A young boy billy goat
Best friend of Lucy and Ernesto
  Tenor or Baritone
Osmin   A big bully boy billy goat
Best friend to no one
  Bass or Baritone

A note from John
In 1997 Kansas City Lyric Opera’s educational director suggested I consider writing a children’s opera featuring strategies for dealing with bullies. As the problem of bullying was becoming a concern in many schools, it seemed a worthy subject and one that might be effectively addressed theatrically. Children’s literature is replete with bullying types, and after auditioning a few "meanies" in my imagination, I selected the Troll who skulks under the bridge in the story of The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Not only does he make an interesting bully, but little billy goats evoke school children very nicely.

During the course of the opera, the three Billy Goats consider how they might deal with the bully by avoiding him altogether and resolve to talk about the problem with grownups as soon as they’re able. In the end, however, strength of character and determination win the day when the littlest goat, having pushed her antagonist from the bridge, enlists his friendship. Admittedly, facing the bully down is not an officially recommended course of action. It makes for some fun theater, though, and hopefully provides a point of departure for subsequent classroom discussion.




copyright 2009-2022 Opera Tales   John Davies
Operas for children, by John Davies offered through OperaTales introduce the world of opera
to elementary school students in a dynamic, engaging and effectively educational manner.
Contact 315-415-1946   operatales@gmail.com

Goldie B. Locks and the Three Singing Bears  |  The Threee Little Pigs  |  Little Reds Most Unusual Day  |  Billy Goats Gruff  |  Jack and the Beanstalk  | 
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