The Hobbit (2004)
While working on The Brothers Grimm at the Canadian Opera Company, Burry was introduced to the new Artistic Director of The Canadian Children's Opera Chorus, Ann Cooper Gay. The CCOC is an independent organization, but provides a children's chorus for COC productions when needed (such as in La Bohème, Turandot and Carmen.) In June 2000, Cooper Gay asked Burry to seek out a subject for a commission and following the summer, J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy epic The Hobbit was chosen. This was, of course one of the hottest properties at the time as Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy was to hit movie theatres a year later. The rights were obtained from The Saul Zaentz Company and Burry's The Hobbit became the first opera based on a work by Tolkien.
The opera premiered on May 15 to great acclaim and sold-out audiences. The Toronto Star listed the production as "The Hot Ticket" for that weekend. At the premiere, world-renowned Canadian baritone John Fanning performed the role of Gandalf. The Toronto run was followed, in June 2004, by an East Coast tour to Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
"One children's opera to rule them all."
"Anticipation was high on May 15 when the Canadian Children's Opera Chorus unveiled The Hobbit. Both the opera and the production proved to be great successes. Burry's libretto has the great advantage of avoiding the moralizing that spoils so many works for children. Burry seems to have learned from Britten how to spin spare, intriguing melodies that suit the volume level a child or group of children can produce. This is a work children will not only wish to see, but long to be in."
"Composer and librettist Dean Burry has followed the Tolkien original closely, fashioning a picaresque piece with a strong narrative line driven by rhythmically vital and melodic music. One of the recurring choruses, 'Far Over the Misty Mountains' surely promises to become a modern classic for children's choirs."