While novels have provided rich source material for plays (Nicholas Nickleby, Midnight's Children) and musicals (Les Misérables, Ragtime), the modern world of opera has turned to them less often. But on receiving the Royal Danish Opera Company's first commission for a new work in 34 years, Poul Ruders insisted that his opera had to be The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood's story of a future America ruled by a totalitarian dictatorship. Three years after its premiere, and with its themes made ...

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