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Baa Baa Black Sheep (A Jungle Tale)

(Michael Berkeley)
(libretto – David Malouf)

This was the first opera written in 1993 by the composer Michael Berkeley, who is the son of the composer Lennox Berkeley and the godson of Benjamin Britten.  The Australian novelist David Malouf wrote the libretto.

It is based on the childhood of the author Rudyard Kipling and uses his autobiographical short story of life in India as a child, “Baa Baa Black Sheep”, and The Jungle Book as the influences.  The harsh treatment and the beatings that Kipling received in India and his escape by writing stories such as The Jungle Book, which has prominent characters that are animals, are merged together in the libretto and the child in the opera has been given powers allowing him to gain justice and revenge.

Staged in three acts, it received its premiere at the Cheltenham Festival in 1993 and after being critically acclaimed was broadcast by the BBC on TV and radio.  A recording has also been made by the Opera North Chorus and the English Northern Philharmonia and conducted by Paul Daniel.