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The Selfish Giant is based on a short story by Oscar Wilde.  While the opera  has its lighter moments, it is a serious story of great moral substance with a transcendent ending that will appeal to both children and adults alike.  Destined to become a classic, it is an ideal choice for the holidays, or a community or family series.  Moreover, The Selfish Giant is:

  • In English

  • Approximately 75 minutes in length  

  • Musically accessible, vocally grateful

  • Requires 7 singers 

  • Children’s chorus 

  • Small orchestra 

  • Minimal set  

  • Great potential for special effects


“The Selfish Giant was such an amazing project to work on, from start to finish.  The compositional style is gorgeous and lends itself to various performance applications from the mainstage to educational outreach.”

Steve Weiser - Executive Director, Erie Philharmonic




Children - Children’s Chorus


Giant – Bass Baritone


Snow – Soprano


Frost – Mezzo Soprano


North Wind – Baritone


Hail – Tenor


Autumn – Mezzo-Soprano/Contralto


Boy – Boy Soprano


1+1, 1+1, 1, 1/ 1, 1, 2/ Strings, Harp, Percussion, Timpani

Print by David Layman

The entire opera takes place in the garden of the Selfish Giant.

Scene 1:  Children play in the garden of the Selfish Giant.  After being gone for seven years, the Giant suddenly returns and chases the children away.  He builds a wall to keep them out.


Scene 2:  Spring turns to winter in the garden.  The Snow, Frost, North Wind, and Hail take over, and perpetual winter reigns therein.  The Giant longs for spring.  Passing the garden by, the Autumn announces that winter will remain as long as the Giant is so selfish.

Scene 3:  The Giant hears a linnet singing in the garden.  Spring returns when the children enter through a hole in the wall.  But in one corner of the garden it is still winter.  There a small boy is seen crying as he tries in vain to climb a tree.  Pitying him, the Giant realizes his error and goes out to help him.  But the other children run away in fear.  The Giant lifts the boy into the tree and the boy kisses him in gratitude.  The Giant knocks down the wall and the children return.  They all play together.  As darkness approaches, the children beg their leave.  But the boy is nowhere to be found.  No one knows who he is or where he came from.  The Giant is crestfallen.

Scene 4:  Winter, years later.  The Giant, who has now grown old, still longs to see the boy.  Suddenly he appears in the garden standing beneath a tree in full bloom.  Overjoyed, the Giant runs to him.  When he sees the terrible wounds on the boy’s hands and feet, he furiously demands to know the perpetrator.  Deflecting his anger, the boy replies that they are the wounds of love.  The Giant is perplexed.  The boy invites him to come with him to his garden in Paradise.  The Giant dies.  Flower petals falling from heaven cover his body.

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