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'The Manchurian Candidate' to become an ... opera?

November 06, 2012|By Deborah Vankin
  • Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep in the 2004 film "The Manchurian Candidate."
Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep in the 2004 film "The Manchurian… (Ken Regan/The Associated…)

Unwitting assassins, a communist conspiracy and a mysterious playing card are coming to the stage of the Minnesota Opera.

Artistic Director Dale Johnson has announced plans to adapt “The Manchurian Candidate.” He commissioned composer Kevin Puts and writer-librettist Mark Campbell to adapt the cold war thriller for the 2014-15 season as part of the Minnesota Opera’s New Works Initiative.

“The Manchurian Candidate” will be the second collaboration by Puts and Campbell. They created the 2011 opera “Silent Night” for the Minnesota Opera. It premiered at the Ordway Center in St. Paul that November and won Puts the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in music.    

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The new production is based on the 1959 novel "The Manchurian Candidate" by Richard Condon. There have been two film adaptations. The 1962 version, directed by John Frankenheimer, starred Laurence Harvey, Frank Sinatra and Angela Lansbury. Jonathan Demme directed the 2004 remake; it starred Liev Schreiber, Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep.

“That the term ‘Manchurian candidate’ has been bandied about as recently as on the current presidential campaign trail proves there’s an enduring fascination with conspiracy theories of massive proportions,” Johnson said in a news release. “Strong characters and tantalizing drama make for the best operas, and this story has those in spades.”

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