1989 – Koppelberg – ABOUT


Commissioned by W11 Opera in 1989

Synopsis: Koppelberg takes its inspiration from the poem The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning. It follows the trials and adventures of the children of Hamelin after they have been led into the mountain by the Pied Piper. There they discover a colony of other children who have been enslaved by the evil inventor Tram and his assistants. The Piper himself is merely a tool used by Tram to provide a constant supply of children, and the magical lure of the pipe is Tram’s invention. The children persuade the Piper to help them, and, after overcoming Tram’s inventions and fabulous creatures, they escape to start a new life.

Composer Steve Gray  
Librettist Norman Brooke
Music Director Wayne Marshall
Soloists The Pied Piper, Tram, Clara, Robert, Ingrid
Groups Tram’s Assistants / Cybermen / Mountain Monsters, Magic Team, Piper’s Followers, Chain Gang
Orchestra 2 Violins, Viola, Cello, Harp, Flute, Clarinet, Trumpet, Bass Guitar/ Tuba, 2 Percussion, 2 Keyboards

Notes on Production: A sequel to the legend of the Pied Piper, set inside the Koppelberg, the mountain into which the Pied Piper led the children of Hamelin.

Includes much unison singing with some swung rhythms, but there are several opportunities for soloists. Musically straightforward to learn but not too predictable to listen to, and could suit a group of a younger age range than the W11 Opera norm ; possibly six to 12 year olds.

All the action takes place inside the mountain and there are costume making possibilities especially for the Monsters.

Running time one hour and 10 minutes.


Scene 1: The megalomaniac Tram is in his headquarters inside the mountain of Koppelberg, attended by his henchmen. He is awaiting the arrival of the Pied Piper whose magic music has persuaded the children of Hamelin to follow him. When the Piper and Children arrive Tram welcomes them, presenting Koppelberg as a place of fun and excitement. He sends them off to explore but when they are out of earshot, Tram explains to the Piper his dream of Power. He needs the children to work in his underground workshop. When his forces are ready he will take over the world.

Scene 2: Deep in another part of the mountain we see a very different scene. A Chain Gang of children who have once been free now work for Tram, making all the things that Tram needs for Power. While the new arrivals from Hamelin are exploring, they come upon the Chain Gang who are dejected and exhausted by their labour. The Chain Gang leaders, Robert and Ingrid, explain how they try to make the best of things. Their conversation is cut short by the arrival of Tram. He never intended that the two groups should meet and angrily orders the Piper to lead the Children away.

Scene 3: The Piper, who is in thrall to Tram, continues the tour of Tram’s “Magic Workshop”. Everything is presented as glittering, exciting and seductive. But there are restrictions on where they can go and gradually the new Children realise that they are trapped. They are in Tram’s power and cannot escape. The Mountain echoes with the sad song of the Children and the Chain Gang. They long to go home.

Scene 4: Clara, the leader of the Children, confronts the Piper. Can he not be strong, reject Tram’s power and help them all to escape from the mountain? The Piper is in a dilemma but eventually agrees. They all set off full of courage into the unknown.

Scene 5: Two of Tram’s Cybermen guard the exit to the passage leading out of the mountain. They are very bored because no-one ever tries to escape. So when the Children and the Chain Gang arrive, they are easily tricked into allowing them to get past. But, no sooner have they all evaded the guards than Tram arrives. He is furious, but is confident that they will never get past the final hazard – his Very Nasty Looking Monsters.

Scene 6: The terrified Children find their way barred by the Monsters but the Piper’s magic music and the Children’s courage put the Monsters to flight. They simply disappear in a puff of smoke!

Scene 7: Having escaped from Tram’s slavery in Koppelberg, the children find themselves in a new land. While it may not be home, it is a place where they can live in freedom, harmony and peace, in love and joy.