Magazine article Opera Canada

Alice in Wonderland

Magazine article Opera Canada

Alice in Wonderland

Article excerpt

Unsuk Chin

Unitel 2072418

This fascinating issue documents one of the fruits of Kent Nagano's first active season as Music Director of the Bayerische Staatsoper, a 2006 appointment that coincided with his assumption of the same position with the Montreal Symphony. After working with the Korean-born Unsuk Chin on instrumental works, Nagano suggested she write an opera. The result is this musically and visually surreal take on the English children's classic, with a libretto by the composer and the playwright, David Henry Hwang, who has had a hand in other fantastic stories, including his own M. Butterfly and, most recently, as librettist for Howard Shore's new opera, The Fly. This performance of Alice, which is emphatically not a children's opera, was filmed live at Munich's National theater in June 2007, around the time of the opera's premiere there.

The startling production by Achim Freyer features extraordinary costumes, masks and puppets by Nina Weitzner, the puppets acting out the drama on and around a perilously hung checkers board. The result is engrossing, even if it's hard at times, musically and visually, to figure out where you are and where things are going. …

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