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Tori Amos Inspired by 'Dead Guys' for Musical

Classical masters help composer transform work on long-gestating 'The Light Princess'

Tori Amos
Deutsche Grammophon/ MERCURY CLASSICS
October 5, 2012 11:30 AM ET

Just this week, Tori Amos released a new album titled Gold Dust, but she's already quite deep into the work on her next project. The pianist's previous album, 2011's Night of the Hunters, found her experimenting with the canon of classical music (her roots, really), and her next project will find her delving into the world of Broadway.

Amos has been writing the music and lyrics for the staging of The Light Princess, George MacDonald's 19th-century fairy tale about a girl whose eternal gravity requires contact with water. This much has been known for quite some time, with Amos starting work on it more than five years ago. But she tells Rolling Stone that her new album, for which she reinvented her discography with help from the Metropole Orchestra, has altered her perspective on songwriting for The Light Princess.

"Working with the masters – the dead guys – is informing the musical," she says. "Living in those kinds of structures made me realize composition possibilities again, looking at it in a new way. The musical has changed and transformed in the last six months in ways I would have never believed."

The Light Princess was set to premiere in April 2012 at London's National Theatre but has been postponed, with additional workshops planned for this fall. However, Amos remains hopeful about the production's future, "crossing [her] fingers for an announcement in the next eight months" and a premiere in 2013. 

"Nick Hytner, who is the mentor of the project at the National Theatre, is a poetically brutal taskmaster. He won't accept good – it must be better than good," Amos explains of the delays. "And so, Samuel Adamson, book writer and co-lyricist, and the whole creative team and I have had to really climb the musical Everest."

At 49, Amos appears nearly fearless about the notion of learning something new and, perhaps even more so, taking direction – no easy feat for someone who's been in the spotlight on her own for more than 20 years.

"Creatively, I had to crawl on my hands and knees for this one," she says. "Because I was pushed by one of the greats of the medium [Hytner, the National Theatre's creative director], I have to think to myself, 'What a gift.' When you don't have people in your life pushing you, can you push yourself? I think you need to have people around you whose standard is high and who don't accept anything less."

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