The Wooden Sword
Opera in One Act with music by Sheila Silver
Composed for 5 soloists, small chorus and chamber ensemble of 11 instruments. Based on a folk tale from Afghani and Jewish traditions it was the winner of the 2009 Sackler Prize in Music Composition. Productions at the Nafe Katter Theater, Opera Theater at UConn at Storrs, CT (2010). Other productions with Stony Brook Opera at Staller Center for the Arts (2011) and Symphony Space, NY (2011). Publisher: Argenta Music. 70 minutes.
With origins in both Afghan and Jewish cultures, this operatic telling focuses on the powerful but anxious King Zamani who seeks to discover the secret of happiness from Hazim, a poor cobbler. One night Zamani, disguised as a wanderer, visits the cobbler and his family witnessing their joyful singing. Not understanding how they can be so happy with very few material possessions, the King then makes a series of decrees designed to reduce the cobbler to despair, not believing that he can stay true to his simple philosophy: to trust in joy and not in fear. Hazim, unaware that he is being personally challenged, outwits the king’s obstacles at every turn.
The score incorporates the exotic and lively rhythms of the Near East, straight tone chant, and a contemporary lyricism making it engaging to audiences of all ages.