’Lord of the Rings‘ Is Being Turned Into an Opera

Calling all Tolkien fans: for the first time ever, the Tolkien Estate has approved an operatic adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. Despite previous rebuffs, composer Paul Corfield Godfrey finally got the go ahead with an opera that is 60 years in the making. The hefty 17 hours' worth of music is being recorded by the Welsh Volante Opera Productions and is planned to be released in 2025. Fittingly, it will be the 70-year anniversary since the publication of the final book in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Return of the King.

British composer Paul Corfield Godfrey first started sketching out scenes inspired by Tolkien's works in the 1960s. In the early 1970s, Godfrey approached United Artists, who had just received the film rights, but they passed on the opportunity. When the posthumously published Tolkien book, The Silmarillion, came out, Godfrey was once again inspired musically.

The musician wrote to the publisher and got permission to move forward once Tolkien's estate heard a preview. Not only did they approve, but they also shared some of J.R.R. Tolkien's unpublished writings with the composer to help him flesh out themes. Priscilla Tolkien, the daughter of J.R.R. Tolkien, even joined the chorus for a performance of some scenes for the Tolkien Society. That led to the eventual recording and release of a 10-CD series of The Silmarillion in 2023, also with Volante Opera. While Godfrey had put LOTR aside, The Silmarillion inspired him to pick his previous plans back up, with the approval of the Tolkien family.

While the trilogy will be abridged, the words will stay true to the original publication. Don't think you'll be able to listen to the opera in one sitting though. There are over 30 “chapters” to the opera and it is intended to be performed over six evenings. Some scenes will have expanded musical accompaniment such as Aragorn's wedding.

Once you finish The Lord of the Rings, you won't have to wait long for an operatic recording of The Hobbit. The estate also approved Godfrey's adaptation of that, which is planned to be released in 2026.

The Lord of the Rings is being reimagined as an opera by composer Paul Corfield Godfrey with approval from the Tolkien estate.

It will be available to listen to in time for the 70th anniversary of the final book's publication.

The spine of the Lord of the Rings displayed on a map of Middle-Earth

Photo: ASTFREELANCER/Depositphotos

This will be the largest scale musical work based on Tolkien's writings, topping the composer's previous work The Silmarillion.

Volante Opera: Website | Instagram | YouTube
h/t: [Classic FM]

Related Articles:

LEGO Unveils Rivendell, the Largest ‘Lord of the Rings’ Set With 6,167 Pieces

Architects Want to Build a “Lord of the Rings” City in England

Barcelona Opera House Opens With a Concert for an Audience of 2,292 Plants

Research Finds That Playing an Instrument or Singing Helps Keep Your Brain Healthy

Elizabeth Beiser

Elizabeth Beiser is a Contributing Writer and Project Coordinator at My Modern Met. She has a background in American Cultural History with a special focus on Modern art and democratic community building. She received her B.A. in history, with a minor in Studio Arts, and her M.A. in history from the University of Rochester. She has worked on multiple political campaigns, as well as in non-profit operations and direct service. When she’s not writing, she’s experimenting with all varieties of arts and crafts. She also enjoys spending time with four-legged friends and exploring her hometown of Boston.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.
Become a Member
Explore member benefits

Sponsored Content