Composing Goldilocks and The Three Little Pigs (by Vahan Salorian)

From the debauched and sweaty world of a Vauxhall gay nightclub in ‘Boys of Paradise’, myself and Dominic’s first attempt at an opera, ‘Goldilocks…’ sees us emerge into a seemingly peaceful forest clearing, where a young woman sings to the birds and the trees- it all feels a little Disney. Certainly, the classic scores to the old animations were always somewhere in the back of my head when working on this piece, alongside the lush, detailed orchestrations you find in R. Strauss and the music of John Williams.

However, this is one extremely warped fairytale! A real joy in writing this opera has been finding ways to add a sinister twist to what, on the surface, may seem quite conventional, tonal material. A good example is Mother-Bear-Pig’s lullaby to Baby, first heard in Act 1, which is used throughout the rest of the opera, popping up in increasingly inappropriate places. Another example would be the soaring ‘bird theme’ we hear during our first introduction to Goldilocks. However, the birds represent very different emotions for each of our characters, and so this material is twisted and used in various ways throughout the piece.

When we were first searching for a tale to tell, it became apparent that the stories of ‘Goldilocks’ and ‘The Three Pigs’ shared many common tropes, particularly, the idea of the ‘home-invader’, be it a wolf or a lost, little girl. The transformation from prey to predator and Goldilock’s gradual loss of innocence is something I have tried to represent in the score- listen out for ominous hunting horn calls and crunching, snapping jaws in the lower strings and bass clarinet.

There has certainly been lots to get my teeth into when setting Dominic’s libretto. Alongside wonderful poetry there’s plenty of dramatic and quite horrific action. I definitely feel that I’ve honed the skills to write for a horror franchise through this creative process! This contrast between very lyrical, sometimes static music and chaotic, moments of huge noise (and quite fiendish woodwind parts) hopefully keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, keen to discover how our sorry tale of Goldilocks ends. You definitely shouldn’t second guess any of the characters in this fairy-tale!

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