Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Unsuk Chin Alice in Wonderland|
Actors: Sally Matthews, Dietrich Henschel, Guy de Mey, Gwyneth Jones, Kent Nagano
Director: Achim Freyer
Genres: Indie & Art House, Musicals & Performing Arts
When Korean composer Unsuk Chin's opera was first performed by the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, it caused a sensation among music critics worldwide. Based on Lewis Carroll's famous and fascinatingly enigmatic novel Alic... more »
Exciting opera, eccentric staging
Jabberwocky | 09/06/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is quite challenging to take a complex book such as Lewis Carroll's 'Alice' as basis for a new opera. After all, it has nothing to do with the traditional operatic subjects. Just take Carroll's wordplays as an example: how can one render these into operatic action? However, compsoer Unsuk Chin and playwright David Henry Hwang, have succeeded. Hwang is a linguistic virtuoso, and he seems to thrive in transforming 'Alice' into singable texts. The music is rich, beautiful and many-sided, listener-friendly and challenging at the same time. Chin fuses her original musical style, which sounds sometimes non-Western in its extensive use of percussions and its intricate rhythms, with allusions to different musical epochs, which are often displayed in a whimsical way. Many contemporary operas lack a sense of drama, but not this one: it's simply great musical theatre in the spirit of Lewis Carroll.
The musical performance is top-notch. Kent Nagano, an ingenious conductor especially for 20th century and contemporary music, shines with Chin's music and the Bavarian State Opera Orchestra and Choir are fabulous. The singers succeed in masterful performances although the music is very complex.
As regards the staging: one can see that the German stage director Achim Freyer, who was also in charge of design and light, was an acclaimed stage designer before he began directing. The visual aspect is absolutely stunning: Freyer has created unique images which not many (if any) opera directors can match. The Art brut-like masks and puppets, at the same time touching and eerie, are made by Nina Weitzner.
As regards Freyer's interpretation of 'Alice's' content: the director seems to be inspired by Siegmund Freud, and thus he takes the story deadly serious. There is not much room for the playfulness so crucial for Lewis Carroll's writing. Sometimes it is difficult to follow the stage action, as Freyer decided to double all roles with actors. There are a lot of grotesque ideas, which are sometimes interesting, sometimes maddening. It's a very eccentric staging and, according to the critic Alan Rich ([...]) it differs from the libretto - thus standing in the tradition of deconstructivist Central-European 'Regietheater'.
The chaotic video directing doesn't make much sense and thus fails to do justice to the production. However, as this is the only document of a highly interesting and unusual opera, it deserves five stars."
A Frighteningly Real Fantasy
John Pearse | La Crosse, WI | 06/05/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Unlike other versions of this Wonderland tale, things are taken to a completely new level. Under the wing of the highly skillful Kent Nagano and the up-and-coming Unsuk Chin, Alice is brought into a wonderfully insightful new land of fantasy, one that sits on the very edge of reality.
The masterful stage direction, music, costuming, and everything else that went into this opera create a highly juxtaposed view on Wonderland. The staging itself draws greatly to the feeling of floating through a magical yet scary and dark landscape. This music completes the feeling of sharp jagged angles jutting through Alice imagination. Characters are much more malevolent than comical when the masks are on. They are brought to life by actors and actresses floating about the stage on cables, while the opera singers are safely performing on the ground in front of the forty-five degree angle stage.
All in all, this is an opera for those who are very open to new orchestral music. If you are willing to join Alice in this frightening new fantasy, I highly recommend you watch it. If you were hoping for a fun and comical opera, stay very far away from this."
Beautiful design, terrible video production
Cookiewise | San Rafael, CA USA | 05/29/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"The music is intriguing, but mostly unlistenable. The design is beautiful, if incredibly monotonous and repetative. most of the time, the characters are standing in one place. That is probably why they never stop moving the video camera--zooming in and out, dutching the camera, and using split screen in ways that do not enhance the show, but reveal further it's inherent problems. It's a static show, but it looks as if J.J. Abrams shot it--the camera NEVER stops moving.
Fantastic composer's rendition of ALICE
M. Cally | pianoland | 07/05/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This contemporary piece by Unsuk Chin is an amazing work which has been captured on this dvd. The conductor, Kent Nagano is one of the world's finest. This is a unique performance of high quality."