March 06, 2019

An Opera the Entire Family Will Enjoy!

The Scorpions’ Sting Makes Its U.S. Premiere this October at the Studebaker Theater

Lyric Unlimited is thrilled to bring The Scorpions’ Sting to Chicago audiences this October in its U.S. premiere! Created specifically for young children and families, this is the perfect show for budding opera and music enthusiasts ages 7-12. Created by acclaimed Canadian composer and librettist Dean Burry and directed by Elise Sandell, The Scorpions’ Sting is inspired by the ancient Egyptian legend of Isis and the Seven Scorpions. 

It follows a group of young archaeology students and their professor as they travel through an Egyptian desert in search of the Lost Temple of Isis. Immersed in an epic struggle of a distant past, they discover the power of ancient wisdom. The production intertwines the past with the present, and creatively switches between ancient Egypt and modern-day society. The story recreates a world full of wonder and mystery, and explores the legendary tales of Egyptian gods and goddesses.

Performances will take place at the Studebaker Theater (410 S. Michigan, Chicago) on Saturday, October 14 at 2pm and 4pm, and Sunday October 15 at noon and 2pm. Learn more about The Scorpions’ Sting and be sure to reserve your tickets by calling 312.827.5600.

Following the premiere performances, The Scorpions’ Sting  will be presented for student groups in and around Chicago as part of Lyric Unlimited’s Opera in the Neighborhoods program for students grades 3-6. 

Director Elise Sandell took the time to answer a few burning questions about The Scorpions’ Sting. Check out our q&a with her below! 

What drew you to this piece and did you have a strong interest in ancient Egyptian mythology beforehand?

The story of Isis, Osiris, Set, and Nephthys wasn’t made up for this children’s opera…it’s a myth that was part of the spiritual life of Ancient Egyptians for many centuries. I knew almost nothing about this mythology when we began this process, so it’s been a fun journey of discovery for me and the design team.

In The Scorpions’ Sting, the characters travel back in time from a modern-day desert to ancient Egypt. How will this visually be achieved?

The columns of the lost temple of Isis are an important feature of our set. When most people think of Egyptian ruins, they think of white, beige, and brown stone, in almost monochromatic colors, because that’s how they look today. If you and I went to Egypt to explore their many archeological sites, we would see mostly faded stone. But while ancient Egyptian society was thriving, many of these temples were brightly colored. So the columns on our set have two sides: an ancient “ruined” side, and a brightly colored side. This, along with the clothes, should make it pretty obvious to our audience which time period is “current” onstage.

How are you conveying the feel of the time and place in history through the costume design?

To design the costumes of the ancient Egyptian characters, we of course referred to the wealth of material that was left behind by the ancient Egyptians. They left behind so many examples of their literature and art in the many archeological sites, and it’s been so well preserved by the dry desert air and so extensively explored, that we have examples of what these characters wore. That said, we’ve also put our own spin on these characters…after all, it’s not only about historical recreation; it’s about making these characters come alive to our audience! As for the modern-day characters, we stayed with appropriate “Egyptian field trip” clothes for them. I’m hoping that our young audience can see themselves in these characters, so for the three students, we really tried to pick clothes that the children will find relatable. 

What do you hope the audience will take away from their experience of The Scorpions’ Sting?

I hope they’ll take away a sense of curiosity about ancient Egypt. This project has certainly stoked my own curiosity! I hope they’ll see that issues like envy, forgiveness, tolerance, and the struggle between light and dark are universal themes, whether we’re talking about today or 5000 years ago. Additionally, because many in our audience will be new to opera, I hope they’ll be inspired by this art form, and by the way that music can be used to make a story come alive.