The Adventures of Pinocchio (2007)

An Opera in Two Acts for all the Family   140 minutes

Staatsoper Stuttgart (Martin Sigmund)

Staatsoper Stuttgart (Martin Sigmund)

“‘Make me, make me!’ demanded Pinocchio of Jonathan Dove and, obeying his tapping inner voice, the composer did just that. With the writer Alasdair Middleton, he has fashioned an opera, which, from the glittering opening chord and the appearance on stage of a singing log, cannot fail to beguile young theatre-goers.” Lynne Walker | The Independent

Libretto by Alasdair Middleton

Translation by Ralf Nürnberger

Commissioned by Opera North with Sadler's Wells Theatre

First performance: 21st December 2007, Opera North, Leeds.

This adaptation, based on Carlo Collodi‘s original well-loved Pinocchio story, is a unique and magical full-scale work for a family audience, a spectacular introduction to the world of opera that combines fairytale dreaminess and humour with some surprisingly dark undertones, and ultimately asks the question‚ what does it mean to be really human?

The whole range of operatic voices is engaged in the retelling – nine principals, including coloratura soprano, basso profundo and countertenor, play 16 roles, and there are also small solo parts for members of the chorus.


From the moment Geppetto makes Pinocchio out of a log, the puppet gets into scrapes. He is nearly thrown on the fire by a Puppetmaster, who gives him five gold coins. A wily Cat and Fox try to get the coins, first by hanging Pinocchio outside the Blue Fairy’s house, and later by tricking him. Pinocchio goes in search of justice but is imprisoned, and when he eventually returns to the Blue Fairy, all he finds is her tomb. Later, he escapes being eaten by the Big Green Fisherman, only to be turned into a donkey in Funland, and thrown into the sea, where he is swallowed by a Big Fish. In the fish’s belly he finds his father, and rescues him. Back on dry land, Pinocchio works hard to restore his father’s health, and is rewarded by becoming a real boy.

Production History

Opera North, UK, December 2007, January to March 2008 (including performances at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London).

Theater Chemnitz, Germany, Co-production with Opera North. June to July, October to December 2008, October to December 2009.

Minnesota Opera, USA, February to March 2009.

Muse Opera, South Korea, June 2010.

Oper Stuttgart, Germany, November 2010 to March 2011, November to December 2011.

Opera North, UK, September to December 2010.

Teatr Sats, Russia, January, March to June and October 2012.

Guildhall School of Music and Drama, UK, March 2014.

Oldenburgisches Staatstheater, Germany, April 2015.

Technical Information and Resources

The Adventures of Pinocchio (2007)

An Opera in Two Acts for all the Family | 140 minutes

Libretto by Alasdair Middleton

Translation by Ralf Nürnberger

2S.Mez.A.CT.2T.Bar.B Soli—SATB Chorus (including small solo parts)—Dancers


Commissioned by Opera North with Sadler's Wells Theatre

British Composer Award, 2008

DVD: Jonathan Dove, The Adventures of Pinocchio, Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North/David Parry, Opus Arte 1005D


Pinocchio Mezzo-Soprano
Geppetto Baritone
Cricket/Parrot Coloratura soprano
Fire-Eater/Ape-Judge/Big Green Fisherman/Ringmaster/ Farmer Bass
Cat Tenor
Fox/Coachman Countertenor
Blue Fairy Soprano
Pigeon/Snail Contralto
Lampwick Tenor

Secondary roles to be taken by members of the Chorus

Barker Baritone
Arlecchino a puppet Tenor
Rosaura a puppet Baritone
Owl Doctor Baritone
Crow Doctor Tenor
Beetle Doctor Mezzo-soprano
Coal-merchant Baritone
Bricklayer Tenor
Drum-maker Bass
Echo Three mezzo-sopranos
Members of the puppet-show audience Soprano, Contralto, Tenor, Bass
A slightly sinister member of the crowd Tenor
Villagers Soprano, Contralto, Bass

Chorus Roles

Audience at puppet show Semi-chorus
Crowd at Court, in Prison and on Beach, Heavenly Voices, Audience at Circus Full Chorus
Fantasy Rich People Small group (SATB)
Teachers Sopranos, mezzos, baritones (small group)
Pupils Tenors
Boys in Coach and in Funland Tenors
Vendors in Funland Sopranos, mezzos, baritones

Non-singing roles

Puppet-policemen, Rabbits, Jailor Non-singing