Alice’s Adventures in Opera

Another big anniversary this year is the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland!  What better way for us to celebrate than with Unsuk Chin‘s opera Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland?  Below, the Mad Tea Party scene performed by the Seoul Philharmonic:

The Los Angeles Philharmonic celebrated this sesquicentennial with a staged performance in collaboration with the Los Angeles Opera.  This was the work’s belated LA premiere, since the LA Opera was one of the original commissioners of the piece, which ultimately premiered at the Munich Opera Festival in 2007.

Photo by Lawrence K. Ho for Los Angeles Philharmonic

Photo by Lawrence K. Ho for Los Angeles Philharmonic

The reviews I’ve read have been excellent, which is pleasantly surprising as I’ve heard mixed things about the opera with its bristly, modern musical language and elliptical, playfully obtuse libretto by David Henry Hwang.

The production, by English director Netia Jones, matched that darker tone by animating illustrations from British satirist Ralph Steadman‘s 1972 edition of the book.  Jones has used this technique with the LA Phil before, animating Maurice Sendak’s own Where the Wild Things Are illustrations for a performance of Oliver Knussen‘s operatic adaptation of that work.

At any rate, an interesting recent development is that the Royal Opera House in London has commissioned a sequel opera by the same team of Chin and Hwang, based on Through the Looking Glass!  This is scheduled for the 2018/2019 season, so I wonder if that will add fire to the second wind that Wonderland seems to be having…

Seasons and Months Ahead

Met Opera 2014-15 Season Teaser

Met Opera 2014-15 Season Teaser

The Metropolitan Opera announced today that they will announce their 2014-2015 season tonight, so that’s exciting, I always love looking ahead to the next season, so eager and impatient…

I don’t know what it is about the west coast, but two California opera companies already announced their 2014/2015 seasons earlier this year:  LA Opera has a Figaro theme, including the West coast premiere of Corigiliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles, as well as a revival of Catan’s Florencia en el Amazonas which LA Opera co-commissioned.  They’re also giving the quite new Dog Days by David T. Little as part of their “Off Grand” series, of more unusual works presented outside their main  opera house, so good for that widely praised new work.

As for new opera, San Francisco Opera is premiering a new work by Italian composer Marco Tutino, but I’m also excited by their Handel and Floyd offerings…

The new, Chicano, Ghost Rider from Marvel Art by Felipe Smith

The new Ghost Rider from Marvel
Art by Felipe Smith

Its occurred to me recently that opera companies’ season announcements are kinda like comic publishers’ release of monthly previews, both of which I look forward to immensely…  And these days, with both Marvel and DC taking on a more “season” style publication scheme, there are always lots of exciting new titles coming out.

For example, I think I found my next comic book crush in the new, Chicano, Ghost Rider coming from Marvel.  The character design concept art by Felipe Smith, at right, has me interested in Ghost Rider for like, the first time…  Even if we don’t get to look at his pretty face when he’s all Ghosted up…

Also, along with the new Pakistani-American Ms. Marvel and new titles for their top female heroes, I’m excited about this diversifying push out of Marvel…

The Sound of a Screw Turning

I think it’s clear by now that I’m obsessed with Benjamin Britten‘s ghost story chamber opera The Turn of the Screw, even more so now that I’ve actually seen it in the flesh…  Today BBC Radio 3 will be streaming a live performance of it from The Barbican in London 7pm their time, which should be 2pm East Coast time.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsZo399LIuw&w=350&h=300]

Above is a trailer for LA Opera‘s performance a few seasons back.  I think that was before I was super-into ToS, but now the idea of Patricia Racette as the Governess is pretty exciting…

Okun at the Opera

Two of my parallel interests intersected recently, when an artist I discovered while cataloging books at my library internship showed up as a set designer for a production at Los Angeles Opera this season.

Carmy Skylight Triptych by Jenny Okun

Carmy Skylight Triptych, Copyright Jenny Okun

Jenny Okun is a LA-&-London-based photographer who creates abstract, cubist-like digital composite images of architectural spaces.  The LA Opera production in question is the world premiere of Lee Holdridge‘s Dulce Rosa, based on a story by Isabel Allende.  Set to premiere in May, Okun will be working with set designer Yael Pardess, designing backdrop projections. Continue reading