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date: 06 August 2020

Where the Wild Things Arelocked

  • Bayan Northcott

Extract

Fantasy opera in one act, op.20, by oliver Knussen (1979–83) to a libretto by Maurice Sendak after his book; preliminary version in two acts, Brussels, Théâtre de La Monnaie, 28 November 1980; definitive version, London, National Theatre (Glyndebourne Touring Opera), 9 January 1984.

The opera concerns a six-year-old boy, Max (soprano). Sent to bed without his supper for defying his harassed Mama (mezzo-soprano), he imagines his room turning into a jungle from which he journeys by sea to the land of the Wild Things (solo quintet) who crown him king and follow him in a Wild Rumpus. Missing his creature comforts, Max escapes from the Wild Things, travelling home to his room to find his supper waiting after all. In elaborating words, designs and musical forms from what is essentially a picture book, Sendak and Knussen were consciously attempting to revive the genre of fantasy opera as represented by Stravinsky’s ...

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