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Phantasmagorilla? No! Phantasmagoria
A children's opera (2006)

Music by Efraín Amaya
Libretto by Susana Amundaraín



Mother (may also sing the Grandmother) - Coloratura Soprano
Father - Lyric Baritone
Bernard (son, about 10 years old - Boy Soprano or Lyric Mezzo-soprano
Nessie (daughter, about 16 years old) - Music theater voice: Soprano
Mrs. Cirkem (the science teacher, also singing the "Opera singer") - Lyric Soprano
Opera singer (may also sing Mrs. Cirkem) - Lyric Sopano
Audience (woman in the Gorilla Chorus) - Mezzo-soprano
Mirage (silent girl, could be a dancer as well)
Crandmother (may also sing the Mother) - Coloratura Soprano
Gorillas (all except Bernard & Father

Story line

The story involves a family going to an evening of classical music, an opera titled "The Ghosts of the Opera." Mother and father take their two children. Bernard, the son, resists and complains. His prejudice closes him up to enjoy the experience. He threatens to fall asleep. His older sister, Nessie, is mostly excited about the theater, the other people and the set. She tries to ignore her brother's fight.

The space is divided in two levels: a lower one for the 'orchestra'/piano, and the other one for the 'audience' who will turn into the singers and characters of the piece.

As they enter, the 'orchestra' (on stage) is tuning the instruments and the light flickers three times to announce the show will soon begin. While they argue and take their seats, the Opera begins. Bernard, as promised, falls asleep shortly after.

The audience characters become the characters in Bernard's dreams. The music and the mood make a transition from awakened reality to a dream state.

The dream is broken down into a series of short interconnected scenes, little flashes of memories, connected to the actual experience of the opera and its title.



The orchestra (or piano) begins to play. On stage, there are extra tall costumes that seem to float high above, with masks, and elements that could evoke part of a theater space. The title: "The ghosts of the Opera" is somehow visible. The 'audience space' has seven chairs. The characters first appear as audience. A women and a girl dressed in bright blue-green are already seated. The science teacher is also there. The family enters arguing. After the first two lines of a singer 'starting' the opera, Bernard does fall asleep and a series of strange images begin.

Dream I

A ghost presence develops and after inquiries and amusing recognition, it develops into Bernard's grandmother's ghost, but this is not the ghost of the opera, or a ghost at all.


Dream II

His sister Nessie appears in the form of an angelic kind of ghost, a guardian angel image who follows him around.

Dream III

A woman wearing a gorilla mask shows up. He wonders who that is. This is Mrs. Cirkem, his science teacher. The others join her as gorillas (his favorite animals). They bring the idea/message of their own possible extinction. He struggles with the thoughts of ghosts and death.

Dream IV

The parents show up as a transition and then Bernard seems to be by himself. It could be a nightmarish set up. His father alone confronts him; he just wants to help Bernard fight his fears. There is a short fight with the shadows charged with emotions.


Dream V

He feels some fear but he is still curious about the silent girl that has been peeking at him throughout the whole evening and that came from the shadow.


Dream VI

A strange dialogue develops between him and the girl that only speaks with gestures and music. She is a creature that looks more like a fairy than a girl. He hears an enchanting music, a voice, may be a chorus, without words. Bernard believes it comes from the fairy girl, and that he is probably in Heaven. Mother and father are now watching them from the chairs (audience.) He fades out into a sleep. 'The singer' from the opera is finishing her lines. All characters return to the audience seats.



Everybody applauds enthusiastically waking him up. They tell him that he missed all the show but he is excited about the opera he just experienced. He tells them about the girl that didn't speak and that he heard music from Heaven. Bernard is sure that what he dreamt was real and that it was the opera.


  • “Phantasmagorilla? No! Phantasmagoria“ a Children’s opera -2007 (34:00) Parts Music Rental only

    Full score $40.00 / Vocal score $40.00
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