Above the World

The Brothers Grimm (2001)

Opera In 1 Act (Libretto: D. Burry)
3 Men/2 Women, Piano or chamber ensemble (Pno, vln, clar,DB)
Commissioned by Music Canada 2000 Inc. and the Canadian Opera Company
Premiered Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Center, Toronto, April 26, 2001

In 1999, The Canadian Opera Company and Nicholas Goldschmidt's Music Canada 2000 Inc. commissioned Burry to write a new opera for the COC's Ensemble Studio School Tour. The resulting work, The Brothers Grimm, has been performed for over 90,000 school children and adults across Canada and passed its 450th performance mark in Spring 2011. It is believed to be the most performed Canadian opera in history. Excerpts from the opera have been performed with full orchestra at the Altamira Summer Opera Concerts, The World Summit on Arts and Culture in Ottawa, and broadcast nationally on CBC's Sunday Afternoon at the Opera. The opera was recorded by the COC and has received productions at Opera Lyra Ottawa, Manitoba Opera, Saskatoon Opera, Calgary Opera, Opera Nuova in Edmonton, AB and Nashville Opera.  The Brothers Grimm will make it's European debut in Cardiff, Wales in March 2012.

The format of the 45-minute touring opera greatly appeals to Burry as he feels that it is not only a wonderful introduction for new opera audiences, but presents a tight and concentrated medium for storytelling. The composer is currently working on two more operas that follow the form: The Vinland Traveller and Isis and the Seven Scorpions and is continuing with a new opera based on another Grimm tale: The Bremen Town Musicians.




"There are whole collections of adults that you couldn't get to sit still for an hour to watch an operatic production, and so the greatest testament to the success of Dean Burry's new kids opera. was the rapt attention it received from the 100 or so children neatly arrayed on the floor. Burry's opera is quite confident in its theatricality."

-Robert Harris, The Globe and Mail


"Burry ingeniously intersperses sung sections with spoken dialogue, making it more accessible to children unfamiliar with the operatic idiom. The vocal writing is typically "modern-operatic" without being difficult or alienating, expertly woven to plenty of stage business, a must if you want to capture an audience raised on TV, video games and action movies. On this occasion, the several dozen kids sat on the floor, transfixed at the happenings onstage throughout with very little fidgeting, a very good sign!"

-Joseph So, La Scena Musicale


" What a fabulous piece! It grabbed the attention of the entire audience from young to small. There was of course beautiful music but also wonderful drama and lots of humour. We were enchanted!"

-Kathy Reid, Arts Coordinator, Brant County District School Board.