Search

Review: Where the Wild Things Are and Higglety Pigglety Pop! at the Barbican

14:51 07 November 2012

Oliver Knussen's opera based on Maurice Sendak's book 'Where The Wild Things Are!' at Barbican Hall, London. 
Photo by Mark Allan.

Oliver Knussen's opera based on Maurice Sendak's book 'Where The Wild Things Are!' at Barbican Hall, London. Photo by Mark Allan.

Archant

Oliver Knussen’s operatic adaptations of the late Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s books are a delight

Part of the November Weekender – a family-oriented explosion of free artistic events in the building’s public spaces – the Barbican celebrates the work of leading British composer and conductor Oliver Knussen with a double bill of his two fantasy operas, Where the Wild Things Are and Higglety Pigglety Pop!

In these faithful stagings of two classic children’s books (written by the late Maurice Sendak), Knussen teams an innate sense of drama and psychological insight with designer-director Netia Jones’s specially commissioned multi-media stagings and the musical might of the Britten Sinfonia. The result is a delightfully thrilling journey into the imagination of Maurice Sendak that leaves one longing to be a child again.

Wild Things sees Max (soprano Claire Booth) voyage to a far off island in a paper boat, after his mother sends him to bed without dinner. Sendak’s illustrated Wild Things are projected onto a vast white backdrop behind the orchestra and percussively-voiced off-stage, leaving Max alone as a tiny silhouetted figure against a back-drop of rambunctiousness. Sendak’s creatures are so vivid they barely need to be animated in order to take on a life of their own, but thankfully the multi-media treatment stays true to the pen and ink line drawings and watching these creatures cavort wildly across the backdrop is a pure joy.

In Higglety Pigglety Pop! Jennie the dog (Lucy Schaufer in full Sealyham Terrier outfit) embarks on a quest to find ‘experience’ and answer the conundrum: ‘There must be more to life than having everything.’

En route, she meets a colourful array of characters (despite the black and white staging) including a sartorial cat, a baby-eating lion and a pig selling sandwiches. Here, we see Sendak asking some big questions of his young readers, some of which may have been lost due to the decision to only surtitle Wild Things.

There is a reason why, as adults, we still pick up these storybooks to read to our children decades after their conception; this isn’t just music for or about children. These operas teach us about the power of dreams and encourage us to confront our deepest fears – be they the perennial gremlins under the bed or the troubles that haunt us adults. A delight – and surprisingly thought-provoking.

* Where the Wild Things Are and Higglety Pigglety Pop! at the Barbican, Silk Street, EC2, on Saturday November 3.

0 comments

Latest Newham Entertainment Stories

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Fireballs tore through the Boleyn Ground on Sunday as filming for upcoming blockbuster Final Score was turned up to 11.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

10 people. Five courses. One host. Lots of wine.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Grime fans can enjoy Dizzee Rascal’s 2003 debut album Boy In Da Corner in its entirety at the Copper Box Arena as part of the Red Bull Music Academy tour.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Audiences at a forthcoming theatre festival will also act as critics to judge new writing and directing talent on the night.

Newsletter Sign Up

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read entertainment

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Competitions

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

Read more

As we grow older it becomes more and more important to have means to travel about safely and quickly. Our friendship groups and families grow and the need to have a car that is not only safe but also fast and big enough for all our needs is ever more important. There are many cars on the market for such needs but none deals with them as efficiently or as neatly as a VW Golf Estate. These cars are build strong, long lasting and spacious for a reason. They cater to the needs of many and are some of the most popular cars currently on the market.

Read more

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Newham Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now