St. John's Boys' Choir previews Paulus opera in studio

Recording the choir
Engineer Tom Mudge recording the St. John's Boys' Choir in the Maud Moon Weyerhauser Music Studio at Minnesota Public Radio.
MPR Photo/Chris Danforth

The St. John's Boys' Choir is celebrating its 25th anniversary with the premiere of a new Stephen Paulus opera written for them, "The Star Gatherer."

Paulus is one of Minnesota's busiest and most prolific composers; "The Star Gatherer" is his 10th opera. He collaborated with librettist Gene Scheer to create a fantasy set long ago and in a land far away--with a lesson for the audience about the wisdom and compassion of children.

"The Star Gatherer"

Composer: Stephen Paulus

Librettist: Gene Scheer

Music Director: Brother Paul Richards

Solo: Austin Kostreba

Piano: Ann Oleksowicz

Opera Synopsis: A baker's young son has died two months before the opera's story begins. The baker misses him terribly, yet he resolves to bake a very special 400-pound cake that is made every eight years for a local festival. He's supposed to collect a star fallen from the sky and put it into the cake as a magic ingredient. It will give a boy who eats the cake great talents--for instance, he might be instantly good at math or learning new languages. Yet the baker, in his grief, fails this year to put the star in the cake. All the boys who'd been hoping to eat this magical cake are, at first, mad that they don't get the chance. But they see how grief-stricken the baker is. They learn a lesson of compassion by baking the cake themselves and presenting it to the baker for him to eat--after which the baker can hear the voice of his beloved son.

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