Frankenstein, the Modern Prometheus

World Premiere


photos courtesy of Susan Nelson

FRANKENSTEIN, THE MODERN PROMETHEUS by Libby Larsen, based on the novel by Mary Shelley
Conductor: Dale Johnson
Cast: S. Tharp, T. Schumacher, E. Comeaux, G. Holleman, C. Swenson
Production: J. Barkla (scenery), T. Simpson (video), G. Bakkom (costumes), D. Schuler (lighting)

“In its world premiere at the World Theater here, ‘Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus’ took a story that everyone knows and made it fresh, gave it unprecedented visual and sonic dimensions and explored its philosophical implications with a post-Chernobyl intensity. Larsen’s themes are presented as vividly in visual terms as they are verbally and musically, with use of multiple video monitors on the side walls of the theater and a large projections screen at the back of the theater that presents a running visual stream of consciousness. These images say things that are beyond words, with the immediacy, complexity and impact of intuitive rather than logical statements. They are a kind of visual music, and a perfect complement to Larsen’s audible music. Some of the most striking visual effects are achieved by Christian Swenson, who takes the part of the monster. He moves with a feline grace and commanding stage presence and is enormously helped by the staging and brilliant direction of Nicholas Muni.”
Joseph McLellan, The Washington Post (May, 1990)

“‘Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus’, handsomely produced by the Minnesota Opera and enthusiastically received at the soldout world premiere in the World Theater, treads an engaging middle ground between the metaphysical spectacles of the avant-garde, represented by Philip Glass, and the real world with the rest of the spare production, directed by Nicholas Muni, particularly in the murder scenes, which are swift, frightening, and without gore.”
Heidi Waleson, The Wall Street Journal (May, 1990)

“Working against the ‘Frankenstein’ movie stereotypes, he (Muni) filled this imaginary theater with figures the opposite of what we might expect. Victor Frankenstein: not a mad scientist with burning eyes, but a tormented intellectual. The Monster: not a lumbering hulk with a stitched forehead, but a pale, watery creature so elusive that we wonder at the end if he was ever real at all. Herein lies the piece’s strength. We can read it as a technological fable or as a dream in which the themes of creation and destruction are sounded but never made explicit. Stage director Nicholas Muni ingeniously managed a visual kaleidoscope.”
Michael Fleming, Opera News (August, 1990)

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