Gian Carlo Menotti’s sci-fi opera for children Help, Help, The Globolinks! tells the story of instrument-wielding children who ultimately fight off an alien invasion. The Globolinks land on Earth in front of a school bus to a score of sinister electronic sounds. Humans touched by Globolinks are rendered speechless and are ultimately transformed into one of them. Only music can save the day, as the children from St. Paul’s School discover they can defeat the Globolinks with their voices and instruments. Menotti’s opera premiered in Hamburg on December 21, 1968 (here’s a clip from a 1969 production); it was performed in English at the New York City Opera in December 1969. The libretto was adapted for a children’s book in 1970, complete with illustrations (based the original production) by Milton Glaser.
Sound familiar? Though somewhat more earnest in tone (but not without an element of camp), Help, Help, The Globolinks! set up much the same conflict as 1968’s Yellow Submarine; it’s not much of a leap to imagine the children of St. Paul’s School taking on the Blue Meanies. Looking at the broad swaths of flat, eye-popping color, the bulbous shapes, even the human figure proportions, it’s easy to see the stylistic similarities shared at the time by Milton Glaser and Yellow Submarine’s art director Heinz Edelmann (though Edelmann made a sharp turn away from psychedelic art after the success of that film).