Ronald Kidd - May 2020

Dont Laugh Opera

I never liked opera.

I loved symphonies and concertos and tone poems and anything else played by an orchestra. A trumpet player and proud of it, I had no use for people who created music without an instrument, especially those who warbled and screeched across the stage wearing silk stockings, powdered wigs, or Viking helmets.


Then my buddy Tony—known to the music world as composer Anthony Plog—asked if he could write an opera based on my children’s story How the Trumpet Got Its Toot, a tale that Aesop might have written if he’d been a brass player. I said yes. I had no idea what I’d agreed to.

The piece was premiered by Utah Opera. Kids and families loved it. They laughed. They cheered. They stood in line to get the trumpet’s autograph. I watched it all, amazed.  

Over the next few years, Tony expanded his horizons to include more vocal compositions, and he asked me to help. I prepared the text for a cantata, Magdalene, and an oratorio, God’s First Temples.  

Santa’s Tale  

Then he suggested that we work together on a new opera. Still an orchestra player at heart, I felt like a Dodger who’s been asked to join the Yankees. But this was Tony, so once again I said yes.

Santa’s Tale, another opera for children and families, is the story of how an ambitious elf tries to take over the North Pole, and Santa, with the help of his sidekick Blitzen and a little girl named Molly, rallies to restore the spirit of Christmas.

Tony and I are just finishing it. We’ve been invited to Seagle Music Colony, an opera development program, where a workshop performance will be streamed to opera companies and college opera departments across the country.

The Met

In the meantime, figuring I’d better see what other writers had done, I attended the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and I watched a few more Met performances that were streamed in HD to movie theaters around the world, including one near where I lived. I was surprised to find that I enjoyed them.

Then came coronavirus, and my wife Yvonne and I, like most of you, have been stuck at home with assorted books, puzzles, computers, phones, and a TV. A friend sent us a link to the Met’s website, where great HD performances from their archives are being streamed, one per day, for no charge. We found ourselves at the TV each afternoon, watching legendary performances of classic operas: Carmen, La Traviata, Eugene Onegin, Wagner’s Ring Cycle.   

We’re still watching, and our hours at home have been transformed into a crash course on opera. I’m soaking it all in, talking with Tony about new pieces we could work on together—another kids’ opera and maybe even a large-scale production like the ones at the Met.  

I am a writer. I was a trumpet player. Now, unexpectedly, I’m combining the two in an old art form that, to me, seems brand new. I promise, though—no warbles or screeches. No Viking helmets.    

You have to draw the line someplace.

Books About Disney

I left my job at Disney years ago, but Disney has never left me. Maybe there was something in the water or the mouse-eared snacks. Whatever it was, it flowed into my system and I can’t get it out.

And so, when another of the dozens of books written about Disney is published, I can’t resist picking it up. Recently I read two and thought you might want to know about them.

The Queens of Animation: The Untold Story of the Women Who Transformed the World of Disney and Made Cinematic History
by Nathalia Holt

Who would have thought that animation, originally intended for children, was traditionally off-limits to women? As unlikely as that sounds, it’s true. Read about it in this fascinating book, along with stories of the current-day animation queens at Disney.

The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company
by Robert Iger

When Robert Iger was named CEO of Disney, succeeding Michael Eisner, people thought he would, at best, be a company caretaker. Instead, Iger has surpassed Eisner’s achievements and made Disney an entertainment behemoth. This is his compelling and entertaining story.

Now Available

  • Lord of the Mountain
    The “big bang” of country music in 1927 at Bristol, Tennessee.
    Read more
  • Room of Shadows
    Edgar Allan Poe returns and gets the glorious death he deserved.
    Read more
Learn about my books, plays, and music at
Download a sampler of chapters from three of my latest books.

Copyright © 2020 Ronald Kidd, All rights reserved.

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