Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland

[Screenshot]Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland, which I saw on DVD, is one big kettle of weird. The idea of an opera based on Alice in Wonderland intrigued me, so I got it throguh Netflix despite trepidations abotu modern opera. My trepidations were, it seems, well-founded, since it didn’t do much for me. I admit this may be as much a problem with me as with the opera: I dislike both soprano-heavy performances and (and this one is completely irrational) operas in English. I also rather disliked the liberties taken with the source material: I expect some, but it seemed to fundamentally miss the sense of whimsy in the original work, substituting instead a histrionic fervor full of odd, anachronistic references to Aldous Huxley and ovarian cancer. Most of the odd stage effects and the focus on masks seemed unnecessary and offputting to me, but I’ll give credit for effective representation of Alice’s size chages.

There were parts that definitely worked: I was impressed that they included both versions of the Mouse’s Tale, even if I didn’t much like the music they were set to, and I found the bassoon solo for the caterpillar pretty fitting. But by and large they were offset by adventurous choices which just didn’t work in my opinion.

See also: Wikipedia.

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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