John MurrellJohn Murrell, OC, AOE, is internationally renowned as one of the most frequently produced of all Canadian playwrights. He is also a highly respected arts advocate, mentor and consultant. His plays have been translated into 15 different languages and performed in more than 30 countries worldwide.

He has worked as Playwright-in-Residence at both Theatre Calgary and Alberta Theatre Projects, as an Associate Director of the Stratford Festival of Canada, as Head of the Banff Playwrights Colony, as Head of the Theatre Section of The Canada Council for the Arts and since November 1999, as Artistic Director/Executive Producer of Theatre Arts at The Banff Centre.

Murrell’s work has received many awards, both nationally and internationally. His most recent projects are a play about Friedrich Nietzsche for The Shaw Festival of Canada and a second opera with John Estacio entitled FROBISHER (working title) scheduled to debut at the 2006 Banff Summer Arts Festival.

About Creating an Opera — In the librettist’s own words:

"This opera is the heart and brainchild of two very determined parents. Even before we met, John Estacio was determined to launch his career as a composer of opera (adding this special strand to his already established reputation as an author of works for orchestra, chorus, and chamber ensemble); and I was determined, even before I found this ideal musical collaborator, to write the libretto for at least one produced opera, before I got too old to write anything.

"Both of us — 'the Johns,' as we came to be called by our other collaborators — love the size and the vitality of opera. Both of us love stories which are highly coloured, richly textured, which have both the subtlety and the passion which only the operatic stage can simultaneously convey — and which only the fusion of words and music can portray. Music alone or words alone cannot impart the infinite subtlety of the human mind, in the very same instant when our hearts are expanding to contain eternal passions.

"We were determined to create an opera which is accessible to everyone from the fanatical opera aficionado to the first-time opera-goer. I believe 'the other John’s' music is the perfect vehicle for providing this access: it is music which touches the brain with intriguing complexity, and the heart with direct address.

"What neither of us knew is how profoundly we would fall in love with each and every character in this opera. Very early on, we came to love Filumena herself, to feel we could help her to speak from inside herself, because we were in there with her. Some of the other characters were harder to understand at first, and therefore harder to love. But gradually, we gained entrance to all their minds and hearts — to Picariello’s grand embrace of his community and his dreams for them all; to Steve’s innocence, which is transformed into responsible maturity, with scarcely a moment for his own dreams in between; to Charlie’s darkness and pain; to Maria’s supremely tested nobility; to the sardonic shadow in which McAlpine has been forced, or has chosen, to live; and to all the others. We have often laughed with them, have often cried with them, but we have never judged or belittled them. They have become our family, a much larger and closer one than we could possibly have imagined when we began this creative union."

–John Murrell