Broadway hit ‘Doubt’ transformed into an opera

This week, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright John Patrick Shanley joined members of the Minnesota Opera to work on a new adaptation of his play “Doubt.”


Director Kevin Newbury, left, discusses a point with librettist John Patrick Shanley and composer Douglas Cuomo. Conductor Christopher Franklin works with singers in the background.

MPR photo/Euan Kerr

MPR’s Euan Kerr met up with Shanley, who says that telling the story through opera allows him to further explore nuances in the tale.

Shanley is unusual in the writing world. Not many playwrights get to write the screenplay for a movie based on their play. Even fewer get to write the operatic libretto. It’s been a learning experience.

For the movie, Shanley says he has to re-write the story so that the dialog-heavy scenes work better for the camera. For the opera, he has had to learn new ways of working with nuance as the story is sung.

“I said to Doug Cuomo the composer that two people in the scene can be in complete disagreement but in musical terms they are very much in agreement, and that is a fascinating different kind of subtext,” he said.

Each version of the story has built on the one before, Shanley said.

“I would say it would be rough to go in reverse order, because it’s hard to give things up, and in opera you got it all.”

You can read/listen to the full story here.

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