Jan Tait and the Bear is a comedic chamber opera by Emily Doolittle, based on a 15th Century Shetlandic tale of adventure, friendship and a ferocious bear. It is to be performed by Ensemble thing at Edinburgh’s Summerhall Venue 26, 8 -15 August.
About Jan Tait and the Bear:
A chamber opera for mezzo-soprano, baritone, narrator and five instruments
At the time that the tale was first told, Shetlanders were required to pay tax to the Norwegian king in the form of butter. Tait is accused of short-weighing his butter, argues with and kills the tax officer, and is taken to Norway to be put to death. Rough and rugged, Tait appears before the Norwegian king, Harald with bare feet with ugly bunions on them. When King Harald expresses disgust, Tait cuts the bunions off with an axe. King Harald admires Tait’s foolish bravery, and offers him a pardon if he will kill a brown bear who has been wreaking havoc in the mountain villages. Tait recognizes in the bear a kindred spirit, and instead of killing him, he laces some butter with a sleeping potion, captures the bear, and brings it back to Shetland to live out its days.
Jan Tait and the Bear Written with the support of a Canada Council grant to professional musicians, awarded an Opera America Discovery Grant and an award from the Hinrichsen Foundation.
“Refreshing innocence… sheer charm” Cusp Magazine
“Witty…beautiful… wonderful…say you saw it first” Tempo House