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Music Text

Libretto by Christoph Klimke, based on the novel by Cornelia Funke (G)


2S,CT,3T,2Bar,B; actors; mixed chorus; childrens chorus(opt);
2(I=afl).picc.2(II=corA).2(I=asax,II=bcl).1.dbn-2.2.2.btrbn.0-timp.perc(4)-harp-pft(=cel,elec.kbd)-synth/sampler-strings(, min.; on-stage(opt):elec.gtr

Abbreviations (PDF)

For full details on this stagework, including synopsis and roles, please visit our Opera section.


This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.


World Premiere
Opernhaus, Bonn
Erik Petersen, director / Junge Opern Rhein-Ruhr / Beethoven Orchester Bonn / Daniel Johannes Mayr
Press Quotes

At the end, the multigenerational audience enthusiastically and boisterously celebrated the presumably first operatic setting of a book by bestseller authoress Cornelia Funke.... This production is vibrant through and through on all levels ... the optics brilliantly match the sensually eclectic music of James Reynolds, whose Broadway experience is just as audible as his familiarity with electro- or synthipop and naturally classical compositional technique. A carpet of string sound meets electric guitar, saxophone, contrabassoon, and a whole legion of trombonists and percussionists. Many beautiful pieces come off well, the most beautiful perhaps being the terzet of the blustering school boys after the pillow fight.... A highlight are the "toads." The formidable actor and dancer Cedric Sprick performs break dance and hiphop, flanked by two kids from the youth chorus of the Bonn Theater, in such a way that it’s a joy to watch. The sounds give the music and text an additional relaxing as well as seductive dimension.... Following several performances in Bonn, the production will be presented in the next season in Dortmund and at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein. Something to look forward to.
Andreas Falentin, Die Deutsche Bühne, 03 Dec 2017

It is very clear: at work here are professionals who understand quite a bit about what a "family opera," with children between the ages of eight and twelve as the core target group, has to offer in order to reach the heart and mind. And that is quite a lot, as shown by the sustained, and at times frenetic final applause in the Haus am Boeselagerhof ... It is stroke of luck that composer James Reynolds, who hails from California and lives in Berlin, first accepted a draft version from the acclaimed authoress Funke and dedicated himself to a version for the large stage.... If "hearing with the eyes" is worth it, then listening with the ears is especially worth it. To be experienced are all the nuances from garish to intimate, all sorts of percussion, glockenspiel, electronic music of the spheres, movie music, big-band sound, rap, chamber music, borrowing from musicals, even perfectly fashioned arias.... This top-notch spine-chiller certainly has what it takes to become a repertoire opera for the whole family.
Ralf Siepmann, O-Ton, 04 Dec 2017

Enough material to make tricks through to the happy end. This succeeds impressively. Reynolds understands how to atmospherically use entirely different musical influences. Not only that seven percussionist in the orchestra pit were anything but underemployed, he also works with neat thriller effects in the violins, for example, that bring to mind Bernard Herrmann’s music to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. The Catholic Dies irae sequence drones in the cathedral scene, while video-generated organ pipes on the walls interlock like a voracious monster apparatus. The Beethoven Orchestra, under the baton of Daniel Johannes Mayr, rendered heavy sounding work.
Bernhard Hartmann, Bonner General-Anzeiger, 05 Dec 2017

In the staging by Erik Petersen, the piece offers tempo, action, groovy music, and an exciting story. Here one is greatly entertained for nearly two hours, and indeed at the highest level.... For there is one thing that you cannot skimp on – as rather convincingly shown by the Bonn production of Ghost Knights – if you want to make opera accessible to new audiences: quality.... The powerful orchestra is the fitting medium for Reynold’s colorful and effective music.... Ghost Knights in Bonn is fun and the trip is worth it – for the whole family.
Guido Krawinkel, concerti, 08 Dec 2017



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