Alice in Wonderland is an opera composed by Unsuk Chin between 2004 and 2007 and commissioned by conductor Kent Nagano, with a libretto by David Henry Hwang and the composer, and inspired by Lewis Carroll's work.
Born in Seoul, Korea, in 1961, Unsuk Chin has always been fascinated by Lewis Carroll's fairy tale. Just like the tale, the composer's first opera, a work in eight scenes for three soloists or more, chorus and orchestra, is very accessible and as modern as pleasant.
It contains many references to composers like Ravel, Handel, Elgar, Stravinsky and Puccini and features many unusual instruments such as musical saws, slide whistles, an accordion, a harmonica, and a bass clarinet, a homage to George Gershwin.
The singing performance of the artists is as flawless as their theatrical performance, which is very requiring in this opera. We listen with pleasure to Sally Matthews in Alice's role, Andrew Watt in the White rabbit's role, and Gwyneth Jones in the mean Queen of hearts' role.
Alice's dream starts with the arrival of the White rabbit in a hurry, and then we rediscover during the two-hour show mythical characters, from the Cheshire cat to the Mad hatter, including all the animals of the tale.
The beautiful performance of the Bayerisches Staatsorchester, conducted by great Kent Nagano, doubtlessly contributes to the magic of this opera and takes us, along with the acrobats' and pantomimes' movements of Achim Freyer's staging, between dream and reality.
© Picture: Wilfried Hösl