Alice in Wonderland


Unsuk Chin Alice in Wonderland opera. Designed and directed 2007 by Achim Freyer. Stars Sally Matthews (Alice), Piia Komsi and Julia Rempe (Cheshire Cat), Dietrich Henschel (Duck/Mad Hatter), Andrew Watts (White Rabbit/Badger/March Hare), Guy de Mey (Mouse/Pat/Cook/Dormouse/Invisible Man), Cynthia Jansen (Owl/Ugly Duchess/Two), Gwyneth Jones (Queen of Hearts), Steven Humes (Old Man/Crab/King of Hearts), Christian Rieger (Old Man/Eaglet/Fish-Footman/Five/Executioner), Rüdiger Trebes (Dodo/Frog-Footman/Seven/Mock Turtle), and Stephan Schneider (Caterpillar). Kent Nagano directs the Bayerisches Staatsorchester, the Chor and Kinderchor der Bayerischen Staatsoper (Chorus Master Andrés Máspero), and supernumeraries der Bayerischen Staatsoper. Costumes, masks, and puppets by Nina Weltzner; directed for video by Ellen Fellman; produced by Bernhard Fleischner. Sung in English. Subtitles in English, German, French, and Spanish. Released 2013, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

I wonder why it took almost 7 years for this title to find a publisher. Also, a few moments watching a clip of this on You-Tube suggests that this was a rather crude show captured with poor video resolution by today's standards.  But there are also indications that the orchestral music and singing might have the power to make this an exciting recording, at least for contemporary opera fans.

Gavin Dixon, writing in the August 2015 Gramophone at pages 66-67 makes this recording sound interesting with "absurdist humour . . . virtuosic soprano writing of the title role . .  and . . complex yet transparent orchestral textures." He was happy with the video commenting that "the staging is as beguiling and surreal as the music." He goes on to state that this is the definitive work for Chin, a Korean lady composer who lives now in Berlin.