Celebrated children’s writer Michael Morpurgo and award-winning composer Rachel Portman have teamed up for a special animated TV adaptation of Morpurgo’s Mimi and the Mountain Dragon, due to air on BBC One this winter.
Rachel Portman is primarily known as a film composer, having written Oscar-nominated scores for The Cider House Rules in 1999 and Chocolat in 2000. She also became the first female composer ever to win an Academy Award, which she received for her score for Emma.
Portman has also written music for television and theatre, as well as a large selection of stage and concert works. She is no stranger to literary adaptations – her opera, The Little Prince, received its premiere with Houston Grand Opera, based on the novella of the same name by Saint-Exupéry.
Portman’s score will be paired with a script by Welsh poet Owen Sheers, and illustrations by Emily Gravett. Portman and Sheers have collaborated before. They were commissioned for the BBC Proms in 2017 to write The Water Diviner’s Tale, a dramatic choral symphony exploring issues of climate change. Morpurgo and Portman have worked together too, writing the Christmas carol 'We Were There' in 2014 for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Youth Chorus.
Morpurgo’s story concerns Mimi, a shy girl whose village is terrorised by the Mountain Dragon. Mimi then finds a baby dragon asleep in her family woodshed. Despite a perilous blizzard, she travels through the night to return the baby dragon to her mother the Mountain Dragon. Morpurgo took inspiration from the Engadine Valley in Switzerland. 'I saw children in red hats, cracking whips, ringing cowbells, banging drums, creating a great cacophony of noise, as they paraded up through the village,' says Morpurgo. 'They are driving away wicked spirits, I was told. So began my story of Mimi and the Mountain Dragon'.