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…

Diamond Jubilee, Revisited

I hadn’t been to BBC Radio 3’s Opera page in a while, but now’s a good time to revisit because Britten‘s 1953 opera Gloriana, written for the occasion of Queen Elizabeth II‘s coronation, has made its first return to its original commissioner, the Royal Opera House.

1953 Premiere production of Gloriana at Royal Opera House

1953 premiere performance of Britten’s Gloriana, from the ROH Online Archives.

Britten’s Gloriana on BBC Radio 3

Gloriana was sort of a failure at its time, hence the 60-year wait for a repeat.  A pretty rare opera with a great cast and production (a play within a play, apparently).

2013 Production of Gloriana at Royal Opera House

2013 Production of Gloriana at ROH; Photo copyright the Royal Opera House & Clive Barda

For more current photos, I didn’t realize the ROH had a Flickr account…  Also, I was looking through their Online Archives for that 1953 picture, but they’ve been publicizing the original pictures more publicly on their site too

Only 3 days left for Gloriana on BBC; after that it’s back to the Wagner & Verdi fest, when will it end…  D:

Cuz Baby you’re a Firework-Maker’s Daughter

Sort of short notice, as I am wont to do, but an exciting new opera crossed the pond and will open tonight at New York’s kid-friendly New Victory Theater

David Bruce‘s Firework-Maker’s Daughter, based on Philip Pullman’s novel of the same name, was commissioned by The Opera Group and the Royal Opera House and premiered in London just last month.  Too soon for state-side reviews, but Bruce has collected the reviews so far on his site, and they seem to have loved it, even if the low-tech stagecraft got mixed reviews…

I’m sort of intrigued by the presence of a countertenor, and generally interested in any new opera performed in the city, so maybe this will be an end-of-semester gift to myself  : P    Even if I have to be surrounded by children…

Performances this weekend and next, with prices from $14 to $38.

ROH 2013/2020 Season

It’s that time of year when opera companies announce their plans for next season, and the Royal Opera House in London has just joined in on the fun with their 2013/2014 season announcement:


That’s nice and all, but a certain earlier, longer-term announcement from the ROH is even more interesting to me…

New opera seems to be having a moment, with opera companies of all kinds doing more modern works and even commissioning new pieces themselves (not just limited to the big houses either).  Probably the biggest news on this front is ROH‘s plan for new works from 2013 to 2020.  It’s a fun peek into the (pretty far off) future, with lots of exciting names in the opera world represented.  Next season’s announcement includes some intriguing modern and new works in the Linbury Studio and this past season wasn’t too shabby either, with the UK stop on Benjamin‘s Written on Skin European tour and a revival of Birtwistle‘s The Mintoaur, which ROH premiered in 2008 (reviews from London opera blog Intermezzo), so looks like we can look forward to some more recent programming for at least 7 years to come…

Should be interesting…