The Halloween

By THEO POPOV and Libretto by TONY ASARO

February 23, 2020 at 7:00PM | Alvin Ailey Theater

Based on the Novel by Ray Bradbury

Led by a mysterious guide, a group of children embark on an unforgettable journey to find their friend Pipkin, who has disappeared on Halloween night. Through their search, the children learn about the cultural and historical traditions that have led to the contemporary celebration of Halloween today.

Based on Ray Bradbury’s beloved novel, The Halloween Tree has been an audience favorite since ALT’s first libretto workshop. After two piano-vocal workshops, we are thrilled to invite you to join us to explore the magical worlds of Ancient Egypt, Medieval France, and the mystical Mexican “Dia de los Muertos” in Theo Popov’s technicolor orchestration.

Featuring: Matt Boehler as Moundshroud, with members of MasterVoices as The Halloween Tree.


This opera is currently being developed under the auspices of American Lyric Theater’s Composer Librettist Development Program.

InsightALT 2020

 A Weekend Festival Of New Works In Progress

Festival Pass: $60
Tickets for The Halloween Tree: $25

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From Egypt to Mexico, from prehistory to modern day, the epic journey the boys in The Halloween Tree undertake in their search for their friend Pipkin manages to combine the light humor of Alice in Wonderland with the adventurous narrative of the Odyssey and the moral underpinning of A Christmas Carol. A spoonful of mystery and a carefully-measured cup of magic are the last ingredients that make this story universally exciting.

It is right at this intersection, where everyday reality morphs into a supernatural adventure, that most successful family operas live. From Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel to Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors and Wuorinen’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories, phantasmagorical adventures have sprouted from regular lifestyles, transporting the audience, along with the characters, into the wild world of imagination. One could make a case that heightened reality works more successfully through music and is, therefore, perfect for the highest form of musical storytelling that is opera.

“While it sticks to two of the Aristotelian unities for drama (it has one main plot and takes place within twenty-four hours),” explains librettist Tony Asaro, “The Halloween Tree disposes of the third unity, one physical location, in a daring manner by traveling through space and time. Music, however, provides a unique opportunity to embody such temporal and physical fluctuations. Opera allows for a fantastical experience in which anything and everything is possible. Furthermore, a musically-driven dramatic adaptation of this story would intensify the themes of the book—friendship and the acceptance of others, death and mortality and the macabre, and the human need to contextualize the fear and celebration of death through ritual.”

Composer Theo Popov continues, “There are moments in Bradbury’s novel that just beg for an operatic setting: the pumpkin chorus on the Halloween Tree, the funeral processions in antiquity, the lamentations of the Druids, the flight of the witches, the communal celebrations of the Mexican Day of the Dead… It is as if Bradbury himself was thinking of a dramatic setting in most scenes of the novel. Most of all, the excited pace of the narrative, which can glimpse hundreds of years of history in mere moments, makes the story ideal for a staged adventure children and parents alike would enjoy. Writing two puppet shows has taught me that kids are unfailingly enthusiastic about musically-driven drama. In fact, their unrestrained imaginations often allow them to enter the medium of singing much more successfully than adults can!”