We live in a day and age when some of our leaders are more inclined to inspire division and hostility than encourage love. So it comes as a welcome relief to be able to develop a new opera that is so immersed in love. Kate DiCamillo’s award-winning book, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, takes its cue from other classic children’s books like Winnie the Pooh, The Velveteen Rabbit, and the Raggedy Ann and Andy stories. It’s about an inanimate object — a stuffed rabbit named Edward — who takes on a life more akin to the flesh and blood characters that surround him. The magic of this particular story, and perhaps the reason for its immense popularity, is that Edward goes on a journey from indifference (a quality perhaps worse than hate) to love. And he can only do that once he’s had bad luck. It’s part of the human experience to have misfortune at some point or another. Dark times force us into places from which we sometimes feel we can never return. But it’s only after adversity that we realize struggle make us wiser, more full and alive. More human.
Valuable lessons about love and life come from hardship. This is the journey that Edward takes as he goes from pompous stuffed rabbit to a being that understands the value of getting, giving and forgiving. And the warning he “harrumphs” at the start of his adventure, imparted by Grandma Pelegrina, that “There can be no happy endings without love,” becomes fully realized and embraced.
Composer Paola Prestini and librettist Mark Campbell have so infused this story with understanding, nuance and pure joy that it has become impossible to separate their score from this beautiful, perennial story. Their artistry and Ms. DiCamillo’s classic tale are a perfect match, and something to be grateful for in an unpredictable world.