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The Journey of the Little Prince

Music by Gerald Wirth, Libretto by Kirk Miles
Andy Icochea Icochea, Artistic and Music Director
Christian O’Neill, Stage Director

JLP_aviator & prince

The children’s opera The Journey of the Little Prince was inspired by the much loved allegorical novella Le Petit Prince written by French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.  Composer Gerald Wirth, currently the artistic director of the Vienna Boys Choir has explained, “When I was 11 years old and received The Little Prince as a birthday present, I became excited about its poetic narrative and considered later again and again how the ideas of this wonderful piece of literature could be set to music for and with children.” The Opera was premiered on May 30, 1997, in Calgary, Alberta. Subsequent performances at Vienna’s Musikverein, the Vienna State Opera and Grazer Stadtstheater were received with great success. VOICES Boston’s beautiful production in May 2012 starring all of its children was the American Premiere, and was received with great acclaim. It was double cast over 4 performances, giving a large number of solo roles, and giving every child the opportunity to grow as a singer and a performer.

The score uses 20th century composition techniques. The Little Prince himself sings a set of tones in which the minor-third interval is often present. Furthermore, when he appears in a scene, there is on almost every occasion the use of twelve-tone technique in the accompaniment. It sounds moving and ethereal, and yet not foreign or inaccessible to the ear. Other melodies, depending on the characters and scene evoke a more down-to-earth mood, and trigger foot-tapping on the part of the audience.

Synopsis & Photo Gallery
The narrator opens the tale explaining that as a child, he was discouraged in his artistic endeavors by the unimaginative adults around him, who insisted that his drawing of a boa constrictor that had swallowed an elephant was really only a hat. Influenced by the dogmatic small-mindedness of these adults, the narrator abandoned creative pursuits at a young age, and became an aviator as a adult.
The narrator next tells of how his plane crashed in the Sahara desert, where he met the Little Prince, an innocent yet mystical child-like creature from asteroid B-612. The Prince in turn tells his story. A seed arrived on his tiny, carefully tended planet and bloomed into a beautiful rose. The Little Prince became devoted to his rose, but he soon learned that she was vain.

Disillusioned, he left his planet transported by a flock of birds, in search of greater meaning. He visited six different planets and on each one he encountered adults whose behavior and vain, trivial or mindless concerns puzzled him: the King, the Conceited man, the Tipplers, the Businessman, the Lamplighter and the Geographer. “Grown-ups certainly are strange!” he concluded.
The Little Prince then traveled to Earth, where he met the narrator, who was racing for survival having crashed his airplane in the desert. The Little Prince’s belief in art and beauty comes through when he asks the aviator “Would you please draw me a sheep?” His ability to see what adults cannot was revealed when he disgustedly recognized the aviator’s drawing as being a boa constrictor digesting an elephant. While on Earth, the Little Prince also encountered a Garden of 5,000 Roses, making him realize that his own Rose had misled him into thinking that she was the only Rose in the Universe. He also met a Fox who convinces the despondent Little Prince that his Rose back on Asteroid B-612 is in fact unique, precisely because he alone tended and cared for her.

He also imparts: “On ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur…L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux..” (It is only with the heart that one sees rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”) A menacing snake appeared twice, offering the Little Prince a return trip to his planet at a price: a venomous snake bite. The Little Prince ultimately took the snake up on his offer, to return to his ephemeral, fragile Rose.

The narrator, with his open-minded and clear vision from childhood restored, does not know exactly what happened to The Little Prince, who left no trace. He makes a plea to the listener to keep an eye out, and to recognize the importance of his message.

JLP_Conceited Man

The Little Prince & the Conceited Man

JLP_the Conceited Man

The Conceited Man’s Entourage

JLP_The Prince & the Businessman counting the stars in the universe

The Businessman counting his billions of stars

JLP_The Prince in the garden of 5000 roses

The Prince in the Garden of 5,000 Roses

JLP_Prince & Aviator at Bows

Finale

JLP_Taking Bows

Finale: It is only with the heart that one sees rightly.