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Knussen, Sendak: Where The Wild Things Are / Higglety Pigglety Pop!


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Knussen, Sendak: Where The Wild Things Are / Higglety Pigglety Pop! + Rachel Portman - The Little Prince / Rhodes, Garrett, Randle, White, McManners, Carlin, Jones, Zambello, Abell, BBC Concert Opera
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Glyndebourne Festival Opera
Composed and conducted by OLIVER KNUSSEN
Libretto and Designs by MAURICE SENDAK

Max: Karen Beardsley
Mama: Mary King
Wild Things
Tzippy: Mary King
Moishe: Hugh Hetherington
Bruno: Jeremy Munro
Emile: Stephen Rhys-Williams
Bernard: Andrew Gallacher
Goat: Hugh Hetherington

London Sinfonietta
Recorded at Glyndebourne Festival Opera in August 1985

SYNOPSIS

Max, a small boy in a white wolf suit is playing in the hallway outside his room, stalking his toy soldiers, ambushing his teddy bear from his jungle tent cloth strung up across the hall and being thoroughly, happily naughty! As he lies on the floor pretending to be dead, he is frightened by the shadow of something making strange noises. It turns out to be his Mama and her wheezy old vacuum cleaner. She scolds Max but he continues to be naughty and defy her and is sent to bed without his supper. He sulks and begins to think of terrible revenge. His room begins to change and all about him a forest grows. A little sail-boat appears and Max climbs in. He is alone at sea moving through days and nights and in and out of weeks until, as dawn approaches, a huge sea-monster rears up from the water but sinks slowly down again at Max s command. An island comes into view with palm trees, a plateau and a large cave. As Max moors his boat he hears distant rumbling noises. The Wild Things hurtle out of the cave shouting rude things at Max and making wicked fun of him. Though they seem comical, things could get out of hand at any moment. Max has had enough of their antics and noise. He howls at them and then stares into their yellow eyes, silencing and controlling them. Max tries to take stock of his surroundings, but every time, a Wild Thing steals up on him, only to be frozen back into submission with his magic stare......

Higglety Pigglety Pop!

Glyndebourne Festival Opera
Composed and conducted by OLIVER KNUSSEN
Libretto and Designs by MAURICE SENDAK
Jennie, a Sealyham Terrier: Cynthia Buchan
The Potted Plant / Baby / Mother Goose: Deborah Rees
Pig In Sandwich Board / Low Voice of Ash Tree: Andrew Gallacher
Cat Milkman / High Voice of Ash Tree: Neil Jenkins
Rhoda, A Parlourmaid / Voice of Baby's Mother: Rosemary Hardy
Lion: Stephen Richardson
London Sinfonietta
Recorded at Glyndebourne Festival Opera in August 1985

Jennie, a Sealyham Terrier, is sitting by a landing window in her house. A Potted Plant is on the window sill. Jennie is discontented with her lot. Even though she has all she could want, she thinks there must be more to life than having everything. The singing plant suggests reasons why Jennie should stay, and is rewarded by being devoured, leaf by leaf. Jennie sets off, to find something more than everything, taking all her possessions with her in a black bag. In a city street at night, she meets a Pig in Sandwich-Boards who asks her what she wants in life, while dispensing free sandwiches. He tells her about the Mother Goose World Theatre who need a leading lady but with experience. Jennie wants desperately to be that leading lady but doesn't know what experience is although, as always, she has food on her mind and thinks it could be something good to eat! A milk wagon comes into view and a Cat-Milkman gets down. The Cat tells Jennie about the Big White House outside the town where he is sure she is going to be the new nurse for Baby. All the previous nurses failed to make Baby eat and disappeared. Apparently, they were fed to a Lion locked in the cellar of the Big White House. Jennie who cannot believe that anyone would not want to eat, determines that she will succeed where the others have failed. The Cat offers to give Jennie a lift in the wagon (which she has now emptied) and off they go.....

Review

Like the book, the opera promises to become a minor classic.

This is in large measure Sendak's doing. The Connecticut-based author and illustrator, who also designed a sparkling production of Prokofiev's The Love for Three Oranges that premiered at the New York City Opera, has brilliantly re-created his fable for the stage, giving it a disarming, storybook two-dimensionality. There is the wolf-suited Max (Soprano Karen Beardsley), a youthful holy terror who hangs his Teddy bear and decapitates his toy soldiers. There is Max's snug bedroom, where he is commanded to repair without supper after his mother (Mezzo Mary King) loses patience with his antics. Just as in the book, the room blossoms into an enchanted forest and is, in turn, transformed into a broad ocean upon which floats a bark named Max that takes the boy to the volcanic land of the Wild Things. Even the smoke-snorting sea monster that pops up from the waves to terrorize Max makes an onstage appearance.

But most impressive are the Wild Things. Standing nine to twelve feet tall and made of Lycra, a synthetic fabric, stretched over an aluminum frame and adorned with yak hair, they are remarkably lifelike and utterly faithful to Sendak's vision. Actors inside the costumes manipulate the mouths and arms by means of levers, while technicians in the audience control the movements of the eyes and noses. (The singers who provide the voices of the creatures are miked offstage.) Even jaded adults get a joyful frisson when Moishe, Tzippy, Bruno, Bernard and Emil come bouncing onstage, rolling their terrible eyes and gnashing their terrible teeth. Constructed by Britons Paul and Gill Fowler for the world premiere of the opera at Glyndebourne, they were refined and improved for the American production. Brought to life by Knussen's witty score, which slyly quotes from composers as disparate as Mussorgsky and Debussy, they may be the most engaging anthropomorphs to appear on the operatic stage since Maurice Ravel breathed life into a Chinese cup, a cat and a tree in L'Enfant et les Sortileges, the 1925 prototype for Wild Things. --Time Magazine

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Karen Beardsley, Cynthia Buchan
  • Directors: Maurice Sendak
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: KULTUR VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: June 30, 2009
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00265T7RO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,695 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Knussen, Sendak: Where The Wild Things Are / Higglety Pigglety Pop!" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Nelson on September 25, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Modern opera for kids? Who da thunk it. Works well with my students. They all know the story of "Where the Wild Things Are," so they have an easy time getting into it despite its modern sonorities.
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The sound of this DVD is Stereo (LPCM) and the image is 4:3. Both Fantasy Operas were recorded in 1985. Expectations should be adjusted accordingly.
Opera, as an art form, has always possessed a tension between music and lyrics. In these fantasy operas, the real winner is the stage designs. They are a reflection of Sendak’s illustrations, where the characters come to life. The props and the characters are believable and the whole set is very imaginative. Kids, including those over 50, will certainly enjoy it.
Knussen’s orchestral music is nice and fits the plots very well. This is less the case with the vocalization, however, in particular in Where the Wild Things Are. I find the vocal scores too harsh and even unpleasant at times, and am not sure children will find them appealing. Higglety Pigglety Pop! has some nicer tunes that will fit the intended audience better.
Although some parents will argue about the suitability of these stories for children today, the presentation as an opera, with music, lyrics and staging, is worth watching. It seems to me that new productions with up to date sound and image format are warranted.
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The acting and choreography are okay to pretty good. The picture is a bit fuzzy and the sound quality below perfect. The music is not to my taste. The set and costumes are by Maurice Sendak and are excellent. If the story were set to more melodious music it would be a pleasure to enjoy Where the Wild Things Are just as much as the book.
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Knussen, Sendak: Where The Wild Things Are / Higglety Pigglety Pop!
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